By Sara Corbett
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Charleston District proudly leads the way for one of the Corps’ largest navigation projects, the Charleston Harbor Post 45 Deepening Project, which will deepen the harbor to 52 feet and enable post-Panamax ships to call on the Port of Charleston 24 hours a day and increase transportation efficiency. The Post 45 Deepening Project has already hit several milestones, however the latest is a big “WIIN.”
The project received authorization to proceed under the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act. The WIIN Act was signed into law Dec. 16 by then-President Barack Obama.
“With the WIIN Act passing, we are now authorized to move forward with the final phase, the construction phase, of the project,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Luzzatto, District Engineer. “Currently, we are 95 percent complete with our entrance channel design phase and plan to have a dredge in the water by December 2017 to start the construction phase.”
To celebrate this historic bill passing, U.S. Senators and Congressmen along with business leaders from BMW, Volvo, Maersk and Michelin North America, to name a few, recently gathered by invitation from the South Carolina State Ports Authority. The Corps attended to give an update on how the project is moving forward.
“Today is a celebration of a collaborative effort,” said Rep. Mark Sanford. “It’s remarkable to think of the harbor and all that happens with it. It has been the lifeblood of the Charleston community going back to the 1600s. It’s a reminder of how central the Port of Charleston is to all that happens in this community and throughout the state.”
Like Sanford, the District recognizes the importance of Charleston Harbor and is committed to keeping the harbor safe and navigable, which includes deepening projects, as it has for more than 140 years.
The Corps’ dedication to this yearly maintenance dredging ensured approximately 1,800 container ships transported vehicles, merchandise and cargo smoothly and safely through the harbor in 2016.
“To the Corps of Engineers, you’re the best of both worlds, you’re the military and the civilian world coming together,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham. “The Corps of Engineers deserves probably the most recognition because you got the ‘yes’ in spite of the Congress. We’ve shut the government down about three times and you’ve never lost sight of how important this project is.”
As many business leaders and elected officials pointed out during this meeting, the Port of Charleston is an integral part of a prosperous economy for not only Charleston, but also South Carolina and the nation. The Corps’ harbor deepening project will enable larger ships with more cargo to call on the port and, ultimately, strengthen the economy.
“Were it not for the Port of Charleston, Michelin would not have come to South Carolina,” said Pete Selleck, chairman and president, Michelin North America. “It’s just simply that important. Having those large post-Panamax vessels allows us to move our material in and out much more quickly and at lower cost. It’s important that we have a port here that continues to be modern.”
The Charleston District is excited about this “WIIN” and looks forward to starting the final phase of the deepening project.