Charleston, SC- Today, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Charleston District and the South Carolina State Ports Authority (SCSPA) will sign the Feasibility Cost-Sharing Agreement (FCSA) that allows the Charleston District to initiate the feasibility phase of the Post 45 project. The Charleston District received approval of the fiscal year 2011 work plan on May 17th, 2011, which allocated $150,000 for the study. The study will analyze various alternative depths, which could result in the harbor being deepened to depths that would allow deeper-draft post-Panamax vessels to access the harbor.
A feasibility study examines the economic benefits and environmental impacts of a proposed project determining the most economically beneficial and environmentally acceptable alternative proposed. In the feasibility phase, the cost-share agreement is split 50%-50% with the sponsor, the SCSPA, but the Charleston District will conduct the study. Feasibility studies are multi-year efforts, typically between 2-8 years depending on the complexity and year-to-year funding. Due to complexities associated with navigation studies, they often take even longer. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be evaluating and applying streamlined measures in completing the Post 45 feasibility study with an aggressive goal to complete the study by 2015.
The feasibility study will identify the National Economic Development (NED) plan that maximizes the net benefits to the nation related to deepening the federal channel, which is currently authorized to be dredged to 45 feet. The entire Charleston Harbor project currently consists of 44.6 miles of channel, three turning basins and one anchorage basin.
“We are excited to have received the money needed to initiate the feasibility phase for the Post 45 project and are encouraged by the commitment of Maj. Gen. Todd Semonite’s South Atlantic Division headquarters in facilitating a streamlined approach to the Post 45 study,” said Lt. Col. Jason A. Kirk, Commander and District Engineer at the Charleston District. “We look forward to signing the agreement with the SCSPA and continuing the process required to decide if deepening Charleston Harbor is economically feasible and environmentally acceptable.”
The Charleston District completed the reconnaissance phase of the project in 2010 which showed federal interest in conducting a feasibility study for the Post 45 project. Until completion of the feasibility study, the Charleston District cannot determine a specific depth to which Charleston Harbor could be deepened.
The next step is to begin the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process by planning and executing public and stakeholder meetings to receive input on the deepening study. The Charleston District will use this information to develop what alternatives will be evaluated as part of the study to successfully determine if the harbor will be deepened and the potential future depth for the harbor.
The Corps has maintained Charleston Harbor for more than 130 years and has dredged it every year during that time to ensure the channel is at the required federal project depth. Each year, approximately 2-3 million cubic yards of maintenance material are removed. The Charleston District spends $10-15 million each year maintaining the depth.
The signing will be held at the Passenger Terminal at the SCSPA, located at 196 Concord Street. Media are encouraged to attend. The event will begin with remarks and be followed by the agreement signing. All speakers will be available to the media at the conclusion of the ceremony.
For more information or questions, please contact the Charleston District’s Corporate Communications Office at 843-329-8123.