Posted on November 11, 2021
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) – The Army Corps of Engineers is pushing hard for the City of Charleston to move forward with the $1.1 billion sea wall project deemed vital by the Corps to address coastal flooding.
On Tuesday, Brigadier General Jason Kelly addressed the city council personally to engage city council members directly.
“This city, this state enjoys the leadership and execution of one of the best districts in the Army Corps of Engineers,” Kelly said. “Engagements such as these are important in my mind to ensure that we continue to work together to solve some common challenges especially as we face more powerful coastal storms, growing coastal populations and property values here in the Southeast.”
Kelly is the commanding general of the entire South Atlantic Division which includes eight states, the Caribbean and Central and South America.
His presentation to the council largely expanded on the Charleston Peninsula Study and the benefits of building a 12-foot seawall encompassing most of the peninsula.
“Just a couple of days ago this very city witnessed eight and a half foot tidal waves, closing key transportation arteries and forcing the cancelation of the annual Veterans Day Parade,” Kelly said. “The scope of the study . . . reduces the risk of coastal storm surge inundation.”
The Corps can’t move forward with the project without support and, importantly, funding from the city. While the federal government is offering to cover 65% of the $1.1 billion cost, the city would still need to commit to a $385 million bill.
Mayor John Tecklenburg says this kind of investment from the federal government is something we need to take advantage of.
“We had some of the highest tides since we started recording them over 100 years ago [last weekend] and we didn’t have a major storm this weekend, it was just a high tide. . . We have got to protect our city,” Tecklenburg said. “It’s too important. We must proceed with this partnership with the Corp. It enables us to get federal dollars to help us do what needs to be done.”
Kelly and the Corps are particularly excited about this project because it offers an unusually high cost-benefit ratio. The study associated with the plan shows the original proposal would have had a CBR of just 2.2 to 1. However, the revised plan saw that number skyrocket to 10.2 to 1. That means for every dollar spent on the seawall project $10 will be saved in future storm damage.
“The current BCR of 10.2 is strong,” Kelly said. “To put it in prospective, although the measures are different for navigation projects, the Charleston Harbor Deepening Project – Post 45 – has a BCR of 6.4.”
Tecklenburg expects the city council will vote on the next step of the project before the end of the year.