The Obama Administration says it has no available funding for a deepening project at the Port of Charleston. South Carolina State Ports Authority spokesman Byron Miller responded to the news:
South Carolina and our customers, Port’s Authority, we are certainly disappointed that the administration budget didn’t include the harbor deepening funding study, and also no maintenance funding for Georgetown.
Miller explains why the $400,000 needed for the study to deepen the harbor to 50 feet was so important–
Charleston is the best buy in harbor deepening. We have already the deepest water in the region, but ships are getting bigger. There are 1,100 feet long and they are moving with two, three or four feet between the bottom of that ship and the bottom of that channel, and that’s just too close to squeeze. We need deeper water here in Charleston. We offer the best buy for the federal government.
Miller says the port did not receive funding because–
As you look at the Corps of Engineers budget that the president released yesterday, as what they call their civil works budget, it was cut by about $1 billion from 2010. So, there are significant cuts and Charleston was not alone in that, there were a lot of other ports who also did not receive funding for their projects. We all know that misery loves company, but the reality is that there were a lot of cuts across a lot of different areas. We just have to make a strong case that this is the best use for limited funds.
So, what’s next for the Port of Charleston?
The next step is to certainly continue to make the case with the Corps of Engineers that last year both the House and the Senate included appropriations for Charleston deepening studies in their budgets. So, there’s a clear message from Congress that they want the Corps to move forward with this project, so we need to be in the Corps work plan that they are going to submit probably in the next 60 to 90 days.
Charleston Mayor Joe Riley, along with other mayors from across the state, wrote to the president last year asking for the funding of the deepening project. After the Obama Administration denied the funding, Riley wrote a statement: I strongly urge the Administration and the Congress to resolve the issue of how these kinds of nationally significant projects are funded in an environment in which earmarks no longer play a role in federal appropriations.”