The Charleston Harbor Post 45 Deepening Project looks to address transportation inefficiencies by deepening and widening Charleston Harbor to allow for growth in the shipping industry with the influx of Post-Panamax ships calling on port in the Lowcountry.
The Charleston District has been working with the project’s non-federal sponsor, the South Carolina Ports Authority, since 2010 to complete studies and move the project toward a 52 foot deep federal channel. The project is one of the first seven that the President’s Administration expedited under its “We Can't Wait” initiative for critical infrastructure projects.
Post 45 is currently in the Preconstruction Engineering and Design (PED) Phase of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Civil Works Process. During this phase, the Charleston District will refine and finalize the design of the recommended modifications to the federal channel for Charleston Harbor. Work completed during this phase will include ship simulations, beneficial use analysis, finalizing cost estimates, and development of plans and specifications. The PED phase of Post 45 officially began in December 2015 and will take approximately 18-24 months with an estimated cost of $4.6 million.
Prior to the PED Phase, the Charleston District completed the Reconnaissance Phase in 2010, which demonstrated that a large percentage of vessels calling on Charleston Harbor were tide-restricted, and the Feasibility Phase, which determined that deepening Charleston Harbor was both economically beneficial and environmentally acceptable to the nation. In 2015, the Final Integrated Feasibility Report and Environmental Impact Statement concluded that the recommended plan for the Charleston Harbor federal channel would be to deepen it to 52 feet, as well as widening areas for turning basins. After the Assistant Secretary for the Army for Civil Works signed the Record of Decision in January 2016, the project was passed to Congress for consideration for authorization.
Post 45 is the first study to be completed in the Corps entirely under their new SMART Planning process, as part of the Corps' Planning Modernization effort. This enabled the Charleston District to complete the Feasibility Phase in four years for approximately $11 million after an original estimate of seven years and $20 million. The Charleston District worked in close collaboration with state and federal partner agencies to complete the required studies and associated environmental reviews and permits. This has led Post 45 to become a model for future Civil Works projects around the Corps.
The Corps has maintained Charleston Harbor for more than 140 years and has dredged it every year during that time to ensure the channel is at the required federal project depth, spending approximately $10-15 million and removing 2-3 million cubic yards of maintenance material from the harbor floor each year. Construction to deepen the harbor to the now federally authorized 45 foot depth began in 1999 and was completed in 2004. Charleston Harbor has strategic national importance for military readiness, supporting Joint Base Charleston, and regionally the harbor deepening is of economic importance, allowing Post-Panamax vessels to call upon the harbor.