The South Carolina State Ports Authority plans to develop an inland port in Greer, S.C, together with Norfolk Southern to improve the efficiency of international container movements between the Port of Charleston, the upstate region and neighboring states.
The new facility and rail terminal will be built on a 100-acre site in Greer, acquired by the SCSPA in 1982, and was to be built into an inland port. The project, however, did not gain significant traction and has been largely dormant over the last 25 years.
The SCPA board on Monday authorized negotiation of a preliminary $1.1 million engineering contract with Patrick Engineering, which is partnering with South Carolina firm Davis and Floyd on the engineering work. The SCPA’s fiscal year 2013 capital plan included approximately $23.5 million in capital spending for this public-private partnership.
"It's been our belief that the successful growth of intermodal container movements in our state and in our region really requires us to look beyond our traditional port facilities," authority President and CEO Jim Newsome told the board during a teleconference.
The new facility, referred to as "a port without water," will be developed with NS and operated by the authority. It will provide a place for transferring shipping containers between trains and trucks for shipment to or from the coast.
Newsome said the SCSSPA envisions an overnight train service over the 218 miles between Charleston and the upstate South Carolina port, where a container could come into the port late in the day and be available near customers upstate for the open of business the next morning. He added it also could lead to more distribution centers in that area upstate.
"I look at this as a mini-North Charleston Terminal or a mini-Wando Terminal without the ships in the interior," he told the board.
“The successful growth of intermodal container movements in our state and the region requires the development of state-of-the-art container handling facilities in the interior able to ground loaded and empty containers and leverage the efficiency and sustainability of rail transportation,” Newsome said. “The fact that the port will operate the facility provides an extension of our Charleston facilities into the hinterland, not dissimilar to the development of the Virginia Inland Port in Front Royal, Va. some years ago.”
He said the facility has the potential to improve the movement of freight in this corridor by converting 50,000 all-truck container moves to more efficient multimodal moves between the interior and the port. “We see it as a game-changer for the port and the state of South Carolina,” Newsome said. “The I-85 corridor, centered on the Greenville/Spartanburg area, is projected to be the fastest-growing part of the Southeast over the next 20 years. This facility will be a further catalyst to the development of an enhanced distribution hub in this area.”
The engineering study will define the land footprint required to support the facility, the final cost, and key operational aspects and will be performed on a fast-track basis consistent with the aggressive overall timetable for the project.
Upon the receipt of necessary permits, the SCPA intends to seek a Tiger grant due to the multimodal characteristics of the project.
Contact Peter T. Leach at email@example.com.
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