Medical District Drainage Tunnel Extension project begins

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – A new project will aim to keep floodwater out of Charleston’s Medical District.

On Friday, local, state, and federal leaders came together for a groundbreaking ceremony for the Medical District Drainage Tunnel Extension at Ehrhardt Street.

The project will include a drop shaft and deep tunnel extension. The tunnel will run beneath Ehrhardt Street and will connect to the President and Cannon Street tunnel system. That will then tie into the tunnels and pump systems of the US-17/ Spring-Fishburne project.

Upon completion, the infrastructure will have the capacity to move one million gallons of water off the peninsula every three minutes, according to city officials.  

Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg said the project is crucial because of the rising sea level and frequent king tides. Officials also said flooding makes it difficult for emergency vehicles and patients to get to the hospital.

“Extreme weather has increased over the last decade. We’ve seen more hurricanes and there were a couple of incidents here in 2016 and 17 where it was challenging to move patients and doctors from one facility to the other,” explained the mayor.

This project is made possible thanks to a $10 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The City of Charleston is contributing another $5 million.

“In the office, we refer to it as communication, collaboration, and cooperation. Because when everybody talks to each other and you compare notes and you assemble all of your assets, you can get a whole lot of things done. That is exactly how we got this $10 million,” said South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster.

Officials said the project is expected to be completed by next summer.

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