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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Water infrastructure bill includes South Carolina port expansion

The Water Infrastructure Improvement for the Nation Act (WIIN) passed by Congress last week includes authorization for the Port of Charleston's 52-foot deepening project, port officials announced late last week.

The passage of Senate Bill 612 marks a significant milestone in the port's history, said South Carolina Ports Authority President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Newsome in a press release.

"With this important step by Congress, we now turn our attention to inclusion in the president's fiscal-year 2018 budget, relative to the construction phase of the harbor deepening project," Newsome said. "By the end of the decade, we will achieve 52 feet of depth and Charleston will be the deepest harbor on the East Coast."

The bill authorizes the Army Corps of Engineers Chief's report for the project's construction phase, which ensures the project can remain on schedule, port officials said.

By achieving a depth of 52 feet, the port will be able to accommodate fully loaded new-Panamax container ships without tidal restrictions, they added.

The project received congressional authorization in January when it received a record of decision by the assistant secretary of the Army (Civil Works). The project has moved through the corps' SMART planning process. The South Carolina General Assembly set aside $300 million for the state's share of the project.

Upon completion the project will deepen the Charleston Harbor to 54 feet at the entrance and 52 feet in the harbor. The depth advance will add "significant capability" in the fastest-growing port region in the United States, port officials said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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