The House committee shaping the stateâ€™s budget is setting aside $180 million for harbor deepening in a key move to modernize South Carolinaâ€™s harbor assets and boost the long-range economic outlook for the state.
The South Carolina House of Representativesâ€™ Ways and Means Committee established the Harbor Deepening Reserve Fund and included $180 million in non-recurring funds to be used for deepening the stateâ€™s harbors, including the Charleston Post 45 Harbor Deepening Project.
â€śWe are most appreciative of the members of House Ways and Means for their strong commitment to our stateâ€™s ports and the Charlestonâ€™s Harbor Deepening Project,â€ť Bill Stern, chairman of the South Carolina Ports Authority, said. â€śBy including $180 million for construction at this time, South Carolina shows that it stands firmly behind this project and is ready to usher it through to completion.â€ť
The fund would be used to cover the stateâ€™s share of construction costs following the completion of the projectâ€™s feasibility study. The total deepening project cost is estimated at $300 million and 60 percent, or $180 million, would be funded by the state. Any expenditures from the fund would require approval by the South Carolina General Assembly through a joint resolution.
Charlestonâ€™s Harbor Deepening Project has built considerable momentum in recent weeks. Last week, $3.5 million toward the projectâ€™s feasibility study was included in the Presidentâ€™s Budget for fiscal year 2013. That allocation, along with the funds already included in the Corpsâ€™ Work Plan, means that the federal share of the feasibility study is more than halfway funded.
Already the deepest harbor in the region, Charlestonâ€™s deepening project would open the port to the biggest vessels 24 hours a day, under any tidal condition. The Corps stated in its Reconnaissance Study in 2010 that Charleston is likely â€śthe cheapest South Atlantic harbor to deepen to 50 feet.â€ť
â€śEach additional foot of depth in our harbor offers tremendous opportunities for businesses â€“ in South Carolina and throughout the region â€“ to compete in a rapidly expanding global marketplace,â€ť Stern said. â€śWe believe this project offers the best value for a true post-Panamax harbor in the entire Southeast region, and we commend the Ways and Means Committee for recognizing the critical need for a deepened shipping channel in Charleston.â€ť
The full House of Representatives will take up the budget in early March.
Quotes from House Members:
â€śSouth Carolina is serious about deepening the Port of Charleston and making our state more competitive. Instead of using this yearâ€™s revenue surplus to grow government, we want to devote a significant portion of that surplus to funding our stateâ€™s share of the deepening project. In this yearâ€™s state budget, currently being debated in full committee this week, we are putting $180 million in a Harbor Deepening Reserve Fund, sending Washington a clear message that South Carolina is ready to move forward on this â€“ now.â€ť
Rep. Bobby Harrell, Speaker of the House of Representatives
â€śOur state depends on the Port of Charleston to attract investment and talent, evidenced by the many companies in the Upstate â€“ such as Michelin â€“ that do business across the globe each day using our seaports. This committee recognizes that the steps we take today ensure a bright future for South Carolina.â€ť
Rep. Brian White, Chairman, Ways and Means Committee
â€śThe future of South Carolina really is contingent upon the future of our port, and the Charleston Harbor Deepening Project is an essential part of that. By funding the stateâ€™s share of deepening now, we are showing that we as a state are serious about our competitive position relative to other ports in this region and the Port of Charlestonâ€™s role as a major player in global shipping.â€ť
Rep. Jim Merrill, Vice Chairman, Review and Oversight Commission on the South Carolina Ports Authority
â€śThe $180 million from the state for the deepening project marks an important step as we move to creating a true post-Panamax harbor in Charleston to serve the region. I look forward to seeing the study for Charlestonâ€™s deepening project completed as fast as possible so we can fire up the dredges.â€ť
Rep. Chip Limehouse, Vice Chairman, Ways and Means Committee; Chairman, Charleston County Legislative Delegation
â€śCreating jobs is a huge priority for South Carolina. The success of our port drives our stateâ€™s economic success as we compete with other states for new business and investment to come to South Carolina.â€ť
Rep. Gary Simrill, Chairman, Economic Development and Natural Resources Subcommittee
â€śCompanies in our state do a phenomenal job exporting their goods to overseas markets. By modernizing our stateâ€™s harbors, we create more opportunities for South Carolinians to succeed in a globally competitive marketplace.â€ť
Rep. Kenny Bingham, House Majority Leader; Member, Ways and Means Committee
â€śWith the President including funds for Charlestonâ€™s deepening study just last week, we are obligated as a state to be ready to fund our part of the projectâ€™s construction. This ensures we can complete the deepening as quickly as possible.â€ť
Rep. Harry Ott, House Minority Leader; Member, Ways and Means Committee
â€śIâ€™ve seen first-hand how the port can impact a companyâ€™s decision to come to South Carolina. Bridgestone Firestone is locating in Aiken and bringing 850 jobs to the county, and it wouldnâ€™t be possible without access to a competitive, deepwater port.â€ť
Rep. Bill Clyburn, Chairman, Black Caucus; Member, Ways and Means Committee
Dredging Today Staff, February 27, 2012