Construction has begun on the new South Carolina Inland Port (SCIP) project, which, when completed this September, will serve as a multi-modal terminus for virtually all of the freight moving in to and out of South Carolina along the highway corridor between Charlotte, North Carolina and Atlanta, Georgia.
The ‘waterless’ inland port is located in the town of Greer on the I-85 Highway – one of the most important highways in the US Southeast – and will be linked to by road to nearby GSP International Airport and the Port of Charleston by the Norfolk Southern (NS) railroad.
Shippers moving through the new facility will have access to more than 94 million consumers within a one-day drive as the new facility will get speed the movement of goods by bypassing an increasingly congested Interstate Highway 26.
When completed, the $35 million, 100-acre SCIP will consist of two 2,600-foot tracks tying directly into NS’s mainline, as well as 5,200 feet of storage track with room for future expansion.
The yard will have 552 total slots for shipping containers and, while the initial capacity of the facility is around 40,000 TEUs (20-foot ‘equivalent units) annually, the facility could boost its capacity to as many as 100,000 TEUs in five years.
The SCIP is a key part of a 10-year, $1.3 billion plan to improve the authority’s facilities and is just as important as deepening Charleston’s main shipping channel to a depth of 50 feet from its current 45 feet in order to handle the latest generation of larger container ships, port officials said.
Work on the new Inland Port comes as the South Carolina State Port Authority has released its latest cargo figures showing that the container volume at the Port of Charleston jumped almost 8 percent in January, compared to the same month last year, and that the container volume generated during the first seven months of the fiscal year that began on July 1 has risen more than 11 percent.
Container business at the port “has been growing faster than the national average,” said SCSPA President and CEO Jim Newsome.
On average, he said, container volume was up about 2 percent nationally in 2012 while Charleston grew 11 percent last year, adding that the volume of non-containerized cargo has soared almost 30 percent so far this fiscal year.