Ports Authority raising concerns over Army Corps of Engineers seawall proposal

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) Officials are concerned with plans for a proposed seawall that would protect the City of Charleston from storm surge flooding. The South Carolina Ports Authority says the current design leaves it’s downtown terminals vulnerable.

The SCPA says they can’t support the current floodwall proposal because it leaves two Downtown Charleston terminal locations unprotected from storm surge. While both the City of Charleston and the Ports Authority agree the port needs to be included., it’s not as simple as just bringing them into the design.

The roughly eight-mile-long seawall estimated to be billion dollar project would surround the city. Specific design details of the wall are still being worked out but drawings from design phase one show two SPCA terminal locations outside the initial wall leaving port’s authority officials concerned.

In a statement SPCA says in part quote, “It is crucial that S.C. Ports maintains unfettered access to and integrity of our maritime operations at both Columbus Street Terminal and Union Pier Terminal, avoiding any disruptions to cargo operations or service to important customers.”

The seawall project is being headed up by the Army Corps of Engineers and will incorporate help from the federal government.

City of Charleston Chief Resiliency Officer Dale Morris says he agrees the port terminals should be inside the floodwall.

“It is very clear, the City statements that it wants this line to be moved Eastward if at all possible to help protect the Port’s facilities,” says Morris.

The floodwall proposal remains in the early phases currently undergoing a feasibility study. Morris says it’s important for all parties to be on the same page through the various design phases.

“It is encouraging that it seems like they are willing able in desire of the conversation and further discussions about how to do it. The city supports that 110%,” says Morris.

We took the Port Authority’s concerns to the Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps released a statement saying; “The Corps is certainly receptive to the Port’s comments, just as we are with all public comments. The port is an important stakeholder and we will continue to coordinate closely with them.”

The billion dollar protection plan is likely to face several rounds of changes and reviews before final approval. Morris hopes all in desire of the conversation and further discussions about how to do it. The city supports that 110% parties can continue to work towards the bigger picture.

“Crucial facilities for the City of Charleston, for the region, for the state, for the nation. These are jobs, this is just essential infrastructure,” says Morris.

SCPA officials say they will continue to work closely with both the city and the Army Corps on the proposal and seawall location to ensure no adverse impacts to marine terminal operations on the peninsula.

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