On Tuesday, March 9, 2021, the city of Charleston was awarded $10 million from the HUD Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Mitigation Program to construct the Medical District Drainage Tunnel Extension at Ehrhardt Street, which will provide critical flooding relief to the city’s medical district.
Once constructed, the tunnel will run beneath Ehrhardt Street on the Medical University of South Carolina campus and connect to President and Cannon Streets, where it will tie into the city’s existing Spring/Fishburne drainage improvement project.
Why it matters: Charleston’s medical district, which is home to three major medical centers, the state’s premier medical university and the region’s only Children’s Hospital and Veterans Administration, is one of the areas in the city hardest hit by flooding during severe weather events.
During these flooding events, which continue to increase in frequency and severity, substantial flooding can cut off hospital access, preventing staff, emergency vehicles and patients in need of medical attention from reaching the hospitals.
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.
By the numbers:
- Charleston has experienced major storm events for the past five years, each of which has induced flooding that has hindered access to essential medical care.
- In 2019 alone, the medical district experienced a record high number of 89 flood events, which resulted in approximately $23 million of flood-related costs.
- Annually, it’s estimated that the medical district employs 25,000 people, treats 400,000 patients and serves 75,000 veterans, with approximately 25 percent of the service population being low-to-moderate income.
What they’re saying:
Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg said, “Being awarded these funds is a critical step toward delivering much-needed flooding relief to one of our city’s most valuable resources – our medical district. 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. 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 V.A., 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.”