While 6th District Congressman James Clyburn’s numerous legislative attempts at securing funding for a study of deepening the Charleston Harbor has been blocked by anti-earmarks GOP Senator Jim DeMint, Clyburn is redirecting his attempts through White House channels.
Clyburn says with larger cargo ships set to sail through the widened Panama Canal in 2014; Charleston must be prepared to handle these vessels. Clyburn says he has previously asked for $400,000 for the study, but he eventually hopes to secure $600,000 for a more extensive study.
The Charleston Harbor’s present main channel depth to all container facilities is 47 feet. The $400,000 study would look at deepening the main channel level to 50 feet.
Clyburn says the harbor channel was lowered to its present depth 12 years ago and other adjustments were made for ships to more easily maneuver through the channel. He says additional adjustments may have to be made for the anticipated larger ships that will be using the harbor in the next few years.
Port officials have said that the study focused on the deepening of the Charleston Harbor is a critical initial step in a $300 million expansion of the port, which many state business analysts says would be a huge catalyst for badly needed job growth in South Carolina.