Letter to the Editor: Charleston Harbor Post 45 Study

Published Feb. 15, 2012

I would like to express my sincere thanks from the Charleston District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to the residents of Charleston and the state of South Carolina who used their valuable time to provide input through public commenting during the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) scoping period for the Charleston Harbor Deepening Feasibility Study, known as the Post 45 study.  Whether you provided comments online, by mail, or in person at our public scoping meeting in December, your input is crucial to the success of this study.

As a federal government organization, it is our mission to keep the public involved in all that we do. The input we received from you is absolutely essential to our study process. We will be reviewing this information and taking your comments into consideration as we complete the feasibility study in preparation of creating a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS).

Please know that our need for your input is not over. First, you can continue to provide your comments for NEPA scoping, however they will not be kept in official record. Second, as the process continues and the DEIS is created, you will have another opportunity to provide official comments that will be taken into consideration as the DEIS is revised. Once comments have been received and the DEIS has been revised, you will have another opportunity to comment on the final EIS.

As you saw earlier this week, the fiscal year 2013 (FY13) President’s Budget was released which included $3.5 million for the Charleston District to continue the Post 45 study. Last week, we also received $2.5 million in the FY12 work plan. We are going to use this money to continue our study path forward by developing and analyzing various alternatives. While we have said that the Post 45 feasibility study will take 5-8 years to complete, we are working as quickly and efficiently as possible to reduce the duration of this study. We are stewards of the taxpayers’ money and will efficiently manage our resources while abiding by the laws we must follow and ensuring we adequately consider all the environmental aspects of the project. We are aggressively trying to cut down our timeline, but must complete the process properly, thus delivering benefits sooner and more efficiently to the nation by not having to redo costly and time-consuming aspects of the study.

We have already taken several steps towards shortening our process. We have received great support throughout the early phases of the process, including accelerated funding from our project sponsor, the South Carolina State Ports Authority. You may also have seen just a few weeks ago that we met with the harbor pilots and docking pilots to discuss specific measures for widening portions of the channel and alterations to turning basins that could improve operational procedures and efficiencies within the harbor. The tabletop ship simulation exercise they assisted us with is not normal Corps of Engineers protocol, but it allowed us to hear from them early on in the process which potential channel modifications they felt would and would not work. This allows us to cut down the number of alternatives we will ultimately test at our Engineering Research Development Center in Vicksburg, MS. Knowing that we don’t need to test certain alternatives, saves costs and time.

Again, I cannot thank you enough for your feedback on Post 45. We look forward to determining which alternative will be the most economically beneficial and environmentally acceptable to the nation. We look forward to continuing our work for you and with you as this project navigates into the future. If you have any questions, please refer to our website at http://bit.ly/Post45.



Lt. Col. Edward P. Chamberlayne, P.E.

Commander and District Engineer

Release no. 12-206