Last week, the South Carolina state Senate approved legislation that would call for the borrowing of $120 million dollars to cover the federal government portion for the Charleston harbo dredging project.
Lawmakers made the move out of fear that Congress may not come through with its share because of possible debt reduction moves. South Carolina legislators want to put the port dredging on the fast track because of the competition with the Savannah port.
However, in an interview with Greenwood affiliate WCRS, 2nd District Congressman Joe Wilson says cooperation not competition would help both ports.
“I have been representing Beaufort County, and I have been very impressed that Savannah and Beaufort, Georgia and South Carolina work together,” he said, ”I truly believe we should be working together to benefit Charleston and Savannah.”
The Army Corps of Engineers is supposed to put forward $120 million to match South Carolina’s $180 million for dredging the Charleston port.
Wilson says there is plenty of industry in the region to go around keeping both ports busy. He also underlined a reality often lost in the dredging debate: “Many of the industrial companies along the Savannah River use both ports for their exports. That creates jobs. I hope both port are successful.”
Wilson says both the Charleston and Savannah ports need to be dredged in order to accommodate the larger ships that will be passing through the widened Panama Canal once it is comple in 2014. “This can be done because there is enough business for both ports. With the new megaships and with the new Ravenel Bridge in Charleston, we are ready,” Wilson said ”But both ports need to be dredged.”
Anne Eller of Greenwood affiliate WCRS contributed to this report.