Charleston has been awarded a $10 million grant to help with flooding in the downtown medical district.
The money came from the Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant Mitigation Program, the city of Charleston said in a news release.
The money will be used to construct the Medical District Drainage Tunnel Extension beneath Ehrhardt Street on the Medical University of South Carolina campus. The tunnel will connect to President and Cannon streets, where it will tie into the city’s existing drainage improvement project at Spring Street and Fishburne Street.
The medical district is home to three major medical centers: MUSC, the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital and the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center. The money is critical to the city and its flood-relief efforts, Mayor John Tecklenburg said in a statement.
“As sea levels continue to rise and severe weather events increase in frequency, it’s more important than ever that we continue working to protect our city and our lifesaving hospitals,” he said. “On behalf of the citizens of Charleston, I’d like to thank everyone who’s worked so hard to secure this funding over the past three years, including MUSC, Roper St. Francis, the VA, our own city staff and Gov. Henry McMaster, whose ongoing and steadfast support for this critical project has been instrumental in bringing us to this moment.”
The medical district employs 25,000 people and treats 400,000 on average annually, the city said.
Throughout the city, the area has some of biggest flooding issues, the release said. During severe weather events, hospital access can become cut off, preventing staff, emergency vehicles and patients from getting to the hospital.
In 2019, the medical district experienced a record high of 89 flood events, resulted in approximately $23 million of flood-related costs.
“The Ehrhardt Street tunnel extension is a critical improvement that will not only provide flood mitigation to the medical district, but will serve to protect both the quality and availability of medical services provided to the public,” the release said.