Progress on a new inland port in Greer, South Carolina took a significant step forward today, as more than 200 port users, stakeholders, community leaders and elected officials came together to break ground at the site.
The South Carolina Inland Port (SCIP) will extend the reach of the South Carolina Ports Authority’s (SCPA) marine facilities 212 miles to the interior. Opening this September, the facility will improve the efficiency of international freight movements between the Port of Charleston and companies across the Southeast region while spurring additional economic investment in the area.
“This is a momentous day for the South Carolina Ports Authority and the entire state,” said Jim Newsome, president and CEO of the SCPA. “In just six months from now, this site will be a fully operating container yard, an extension of the port within the thriving cargo base of the Upstate and the I-85 corridor.”
The Greer container terminal will be linked to the Port of Charleston by the Norfolk Southern main rail line that provides overnight service between Charleston and the Upstate. The site is positioned along the I-85 corridor – the fastest-growing part of the region – between the key markets of Charlotte and Atlanta, and it will provide market access to more than 94 million consumers within a one-day drive. Already, the Upstate region is home to the largest concentration of port users in South Carolina.
“Norfolk Southern is very excited to work with the South Carolina Ports Authority on the South Carolina Inland Port,” said Mike McClellan, vice president of intermodal and automotive marketing for Norfolk Southern. “This project leverages the best capabilities of NS and the SCPA and will provide new, cost-effective, rail-based intermodal solutions that should benefit all of the shippers in the Upstate South Carolina region.”
The project uniquely involves the convergence of four modes of transportation at one site, with the port, rail, truck and the nearby GSP International Airport all handling international commerce for the region’s shippers. By utilizing rail, importers and exporters can maximize tonnage moved per gallon of fuel, providing both environmental benefits and cost savings. Shippers in the region also will benefit from proximate access to empty containers for loading export goods and the availability of intermodal chassis on site.
“We have been impressed at the level of interest in this project from both current and prospective customers of the port,” Newsome said. “As the Southeast continues to lead the nation in exporting, and as e-commerce distribution grows, the inland port will be positioned to speed the flow of commerce and serve as a catalyst for investment in the surrounding area.”
Officials at the groundbreaking lauded the project and highlighted the importance of inland infrastructure as a complement to the Port of Charleston’s waterside capabilities, including the deepest harbor in the Southeast region.
“Our ports have driven economic investment across this great state for hundreds of years, and the inland port will play a crucial role in helping companies here move their goods more efficiently than ever before,” said South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. “It is critical that we invest in the infrastructure that supports our ports’ success in order to continue bringing good jobs to South Carolina.”
The inland port is one aspect of the SCPA’s 10-year, $1.3-billion capital plan that includes major investments in both new and existing facilities, equipment and information systems. Additionally, the state of South Carolina is investing nearly $700 in port-related infrastructure, including $300 to fund the construction of Charleston’s post-45 Harbor Deepening Project, slated for completion by 2019.
“This is a major economic announcement for South Carolina as about one in every five jobs is tied – directly or indirectly – to the Port of Charleston,” said U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham. “This new Inland Port will dramatically expand the economic ties between the Upstate and Lowcountry, creating greater efficiencies for Upstate businesses getting their goods to market. I commend Jim Newsome and the State Ports Authority for their vision, as this investment will help grow our economy and create jobs.”
“Today’s groundbreaking at the South Carolina Inland Port in Greer is another strong step forward for our state’s economy,” said U.S. Senator Tim Scott. “Strengthening the connection between the Upstate and the Lowcountry will provide a vital engine as we strive to compete and succeed in the global economy. I have no doubt the hardworking folks in the Upstate will make South Carolina proud by helping build a better economic future for all of us.”
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood said in a statement that the inland port is an example of how public-private partnerships can improve freight transportation nationwide.
“The South Carolina Inland Port is a perfect example of the kind of public-private partnership President Obama called for to improve our nation’s infrastructure in his State of the Union address this month,” said Secretary LaHood. “As the President said, our country’s businesses need modern ports to move our goods, and the Department of Transportation remains committed to making our ports the best in the world.”
The paved area of the SCIP will be approximately 40 acres, and the SCPA has contracted with CenterPoint Properties to develop the site. CenterPoint developed the largest master-planned inland port in North America, which is located in Joliet, Illinois.
“CenterPoint is pleased to partner with the South Carolina Ports Authority and the state to build an inland intermodal terminal for port container traffic, the first of its kind in the nation,” said Paul Fisher, president and CEO of Oak Brook, Illinois-based CenterPoint Properties. “South Carolina has been a leader in attracting business. This is another innovative step.”
The SCIP will consist of two 2,600-foot working tracks tying to Norfolk Sothern’s main line as well as 5,200 feet of storage tracks with room for future expansions. The estimated cost of the project is approximately $35 million.
The SCPA will dismantle and relocate three rubber-tired gantry cranes (RTGs) from Charleston to the site for stacking containers in the yard, which will have 552 total slots for shipping containers. While the initial capacity of the facility is around 40,000 containers annually, the facility could handle as many as 100,000 boxes in five years.
Work is already underway to prepare the site for construction. Last month, crews mobilized equipment to the site and began clearing and grading the property. The SCIP is expected to be fully operational by September 1.
Press Release, March 1, 2013