CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- Crews have been working for years to deepen the 45 foot depth of the Charleston Harbor to 52 feet. Now, that vision will soon become a reality, breaking the record for the deepest port on the East Coast.

The goal behind this project also has some depth to it — no pun intended.

“This is all about transportation efficiency. The large ships are just getting larger because it’s more cost effective to bring things over in one trip than multiple trips,” says Jeff Livasy, Civil Works Chief for the project.

When the port was established back in 1878, it was just over 20 feet deep. Now in 2021, crews have been able to more than double the depth to 45 feet. Project leaders say the current depth still causes problems for large ships trying to load and unload in the Lowcountry.

By midway through 2022, they plan on adding 7 more feet for a total depth of 52 feet.

So what does this mean for the Lowcountry? Experts say it could help to rake in an extra $170 million a year in benefits. Livasy believes it is the key to helping Charleston stay competitive in the shipping industry.

“The fact that we have the deepest shipping ports is really attractive to these large shipping companies,” says Livasy. “A few months ago, we had The Brazil come in, one of the largest ships, and we were able only able to do it because it was riding the tides and it wasn’t fully loaded. We wont have those restrictions after this work is done next year.”

The total cost of the project is expected to be more than $600 million dollars. Livasy says this cost is comparable to the cost of the Ravenel Bridge’s construction.