South Carolina Ports Authority was awarded a nearly $20 million federal grant on Feb. 11 to assist with building vital infrastructure at Wando Welch Terminal in support of the Charleston Harbor Deepening Project.
The United States Department of Transportation awarded the Port Infrastructure Development Grant for S.C. Ports’ Wando Welch Terminal Wharf Toe Wall and Berth Deepening Project. The funds will go toward building a toe wall and deepening three berths at the Wando terminal.
“The U.S. Department of Transportation grant is crucial to realizing these necessary infrastructure projects related to our Charleston Harbor Deepening Project,” said S.C. Ports Authority president and CEO Jim Newsome. “We are incredibly grateful to the DOT, Gov. Henry McMaster and our Congressional delegation for their work on this grant. Their support ensures South Carolina will have the deepest harbor on the East Coast next year with 52 feet of depth, enabling S.C. Ports to remain globally competitive in the era of big ships.”
The toe wall is needed to maintain a stable slope beneath the wharf, as well as provide an edge for berth deepening and to enable future maintenance dredging.
These construction projects are critically linked to the Charleston Harbor Deepening Project, which is currently underway by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
“We are appreciative that the DOT recognized the importance of this funding as work progresses on the Charleston Harbor Deepening Project,” said S.C. Ports Authority COO Barbara Melvin. “The construction of the toe wall and deepening of the three berths at Wando Welch Terminal must be completed in conjunction with the deepening project to realize the full benefits of achieving 52 feet of depth. This work will ensure the mega container ships calling on the Port of Charleston can seamlessly access Wando Welch Terminal.”
The toe wall construction and dredging work will cost around $33 million, with S.C. Ports contributing around $13 million and the grant contributing nearly $20 million.
This work complements a multiyear effort to upgrade Wando Welch Terminal with a stronger wharf and more efficient layout to handle larger ships, taller cranes and more cargo.
S.C. Ports has invested nearly $2 billion overall in recent years to enhance infrastructure and increase capacity as cargo volumes continue to grow. Container volumes have doubled at the Port of Charleston since 2009 and continue to grow year-over-year.
S.C. Ports is a vital economic engine for the state, generating a $63.4 billion statewide economic impact each year and creating one in 10 S.C. jobs. Companies rely on the Port of Charleston to quickly move their products to global markets and import goods to Southeast consumers.
"S.C. Ports is working to deepen Charleston Harbor, further modernize Wando Welch Terminal and build the Hugh K. Leatherman Sr. Terminal,” Newsome said. “This grant works in tandem with our imperative infrastructure initiatives to ensure we can handle mega container ships and remain a top 10 U.S. container port.”