Politicians scramble to get Charleston Harbor deepening funds (update: feasibility study cost-share agreement signed)

Image by Flickr user roger4336 Graham addresses Congress over his plan.

Update June 21: S.C. State Ports Authority and Army Corps of Engineers officials signed a cost-sharing agreement authorizing a feasibility study that will investigate the deepening of the Charleston Harbor.

Specifically, the study will look into deepening the harbor more than 45 feet. State and federal governments will share the cost of the study.

The feasibility study could take anywhere from two to eight year.s After it's completed, a recommendation will be made regarding how deep to dredge the Charleston Harbor.

Get more information over at Charleston Regional Business Journal's report here.

Update May 18, funded! It took a quarter of a year, but the Charleston Port got it's need $50,000 to kick of the dredging work — in fact, they received $150,000.

And, in what's nearly as news worthy as the funding announcement, is how U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R), U.S. Rep. Tim Scott (R), and U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn (D) all seemed to call a political cease fire to announce the funding deal together. It's a plus one for team work and a smack to U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint (R) who hasn't been advocating the funding.

At any rate, for many details I'll direct you to The Post and Courier's report

Update May 2, money in the bag? "Optimistic" is the word of the day.

Rep. Jim Clyburn's office thinks their "administrative" method may yield results when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers releases it's funding list later this month.

Check out The Associated Press' report on the news over here.

Update April 23, Clyburn says he's making progress: Not to be outdone by South Carolina's U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R), House Rep. Jim Clyburn (D) is saying his "administrative" solution is making progress. 

In a written release he's said, "The indications that I have received from the Vice President’s office are very positive, and I look forward to having the funding for the Charleston Port study resolved in the coming weeks. I appreciate the support from the White House for our efforts to ensure the Charleston Port remains a vital economic engine."

Expect more on this one in the next couple weeks.

Update April 16, funding for all?: With Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid backing up Graham's pitch to get funding to Charleston with a bill aimed at studying 12 ports in a deepening lurch.

Meanwhile Rep. Jim Clyburn is saying he's pursuing an administrative way to secure the funds. 

Head on over to Columbia Regional Business Report for a nice report on the latest.

Update April 13, more talk: Another month has passed and Graham is back in the spotlight now with fellow Republican U.S. Rep. Tim Scott alongside to push the "merit based" funding criteria. 

The Post and Courier has a nice report on the latest turn; read it here. WTOC has a video report, too.

A few casual observances:

- Somewhat surprisingly DeMint hasn't been a big player in the merit idea;
- The merit idea has the (bonus?) side effect of likely putting Charleston's dredging ahead of Savannah's which is ahead in funding, but requires more dredging
- Dem. Clyburn has been promising to get  the funding (details below) has yet to materialize. 

Update March 15, 'merit based': U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham is pushing a new "merit based" plan for harbor deepening.

The general idea is that all ports looking to reach 50 feet would be assessed to see which make the most sense to be deepened. And the case thus far is that since Charleston is already at 45 feet it has a very good case.

And perhaps a better case than Savannah at a current 42 feet.

Of course there's lots of nitty gritty, head on over to The Post and Courier's report to get up to speed.

Update February 26, more bellyaching: The Post and Courier has penned an editorial that, basically, calls out our state's elected members of Congress for not coming together to get the job done and funding secured. 

The editorial bemoans how a "paltry" $400,000 in federal funding is what is pushing the ailing Charleston ports further and further behind — it makes one wonder why our state and business leadership is willing to wait for $400,000 in federal funding and not just find another way to pay for a "paltry" study to enable a multi-million investment in dredging in a multi-billion shipping industry.

At any rate, read the paper's editorial here.

Update February 25, Clyburn vows to get: U.S. House Rep. Jim Clyburn (D) is promising to get the $400,000 for the study.

It sounds like he'll treat needed work at the ports of Georgetown and Charleston as infrastructure projects; read about his idea and promise at The Post and Courier.

Question is, what will yield better results: Clyburn's method or U.S. Senators Jim DeMint (R) and Lindsey Graham's (R) tact to restructure funding process for ports?

First reporting: Disappointment is being expressed that the budget recently proposed by President Barack Obama doesn't include $400,000 to kickstart at $250 million deepening of the Charleston Harbor.

That $400,000 has been much sought as it would fund a study on how the Harbor could be deepened from 45 to 50 feet to allow for the next generation of cargo ships, "post- Panamax" ones.

Still, in a report over at The Post and Courier, the paper explains there's hope that the money could find its way in during budget debate or when the Army Corps of Engineers assigns dollars later this year; read that report here.

Over in Georgia folks aren't thrilled either, while they saw a $600,000 amount for a study to deepen the Savannah River, they had hoped $400 million in federal funds would be pledged for the deepening; read about that in this WSAV report.

Update February 16: There's incremental follow up on this one today.

Live 5 News has a general video report about the matter and notes that if the state waits for the project to be funded by the Army Corps of Engineers funds, we won't know until at least March when the agency gets its new budget; watch that video here.

In the politics connection, The State has published a report that details infighting from South Carolina's congressional delegation about not uniting for the funding; read that report here.

Filed in