About $49 million in new federal money will go to a project that will eventually deepen Charleston Harbor, according to South Carolina elected officials. However, the Army Corps of Engineers says its work plan for 2018 has not been officially released.
The $558 million project began in March and will deepen the harbor from 46 to 52 feet, making Charleston the East Coast’s deepest waterway. It’s an effort for the port to take a new class of mega cargo ships carrying 14,000 or more boxes.
“This is may be one of the most significant wins for Team South Carolina this year,” Gov. Henry McMaster said in a statement. “President Trump’s commitment to South Carolina and the Port of Charleston keeps our dredging on schedule to become the deepest harbor on the East Coast.”
Graham said Thursday the $49 million was included in the Trump administration’s work plan for the Corps. The funding would be a portion of pledged federal money for the project, but much more is needed. The state has approved a loan to help cover the cost differential for work to continue this year.
“In the era of an earmark ban, the administration is really the only one that can put money into a work plan like that,” State Ports Authority CEO Jim Newsome said, crediting McMaster with lobbying the president to include the money.
The state is contributing $271 million for the project, the rest is to come from the federal government.
The Corps of Engineers did not confirm the news. “The Work Plan has not been released and we have not yet been notified by our headquarters of receiving any funds under the Work Plan,” Charleston District spokesman Sean McBride said in an email.