Port of Charleston takes big step toward the future with today’s work on new terminal

By: | at 08:00 PM | Channel(s): Ports & Terminals  

The development of a new box terminal on the site of the former Naval Base is key for future growth at Port of Charleston.By George Lauriat, AJOTThe South Carolina State Ports Authority (SCSPA) has a full plate. Construction is well underway on the new 280-acre container terminal at the site of the former Charleston Naval Base. The estimated $550 million project is to expand box facilities to accommodate the anticipated boost in container traffic post-downturn from the expanded Panama Canal and Suez Canal services.
Byron Miller, Director, Public Relations for the SCSPA told the AJOT, “Construction is well underway. In April, the SCSPA awarded the next $55-million contract for construction of a 5,000-foot long containment wall that will serve as the face of the new terminal’s dock.”
In February, the SCSPA released a request for bids for the construction of a 5,000-foot-long containment structure built out approximately 850 feet from the existing shoreline toward the main shipping channel. The winning bid of $55 million was awarded to a joint venture of Cape Romain Contractors of Wando, SC and Massachusetts-based Cashman, which was the lead contractor on the demolition of the former Cooper River bridges.
It’s expected that work will begin this summer on dredging approximately 880,000 cubic yards of material, installing the steel pipe, a sheet pile wall and constructing of a rock berm consisting of approximately 290,000 cubic yards of rock.
Once built, the containment structure will be filled and readied for the construction of the 280-acre container terminal.
David J. Posek, SCSPA chairman said, “We’re moving ahead with creating new port capacity while creating tremendous local impact and jobs in the community.” Adding “The construction of the containment wall is critical to keep the opening of the terminal on schedule for 2014, coinciding with the opening of the expanded Panama Canal.”
When Phase 1 is complete the 280-acre terminal will boost Charleston’s capacity by 50%, adding 1.4 million TEUs in annual throughput. In 2008, the Port posted a throughput of 1.64 million TEUs.
One of the important features of the terminal design is the intermodal connections. A new, dedicated Port Access Road will connect the new box terminal to I-26. When asked about funding, Miller noted, “Funding is secure…more than $182.5 million in state and federal funds have been allocated for the road. Rail service will be provided by both (Norfolk Southern) NS and CSX, who operate intermodal yards proximate to the new facility.”
Currently, there is a complex disagreement between NS and CSX and other related parties as to exactly how access will be allocated, but the financing is in place and negotiations ongoing.
In May, the SCSPA inked an extension with Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC). The Geneva based carrier will call at the Port of Charleston through 2017 (see story). MSC, the world’s second largest box carrier, recently opened a 45,000 sq/ft South Atlantic headquarters in nearby Mount Pleasant and annually has two hundred ship calls at the port. “This signals MSC’s confidence in Charleston’s ability to handle their needs now and well into the future,” said Fred Stribling, the SCSPA’s vice president of marketing and sales. “We enjoy a strong, productive relationship with MSC, and we anticipate a growing MSC presence in the Port of Charleston.”
In 2008, the Port of Charleston handled 587,000 tons of breakbulk cargo, a sector that has been re-emphasized over the past four years. Miller says that Charleston has enjoyed growth in certain sectors of its breakbulk business, such as power generation equipment.
The importance of breakbulk to the port was clear when in March the establishment of a new breakbulk service was announced. National Shipping Company of Saudi Arabia (NSCSA) began calling at the Port of Charleston’s Columbus Street Terminal every twenty-one days. The deployment is a liner service handling a combination of traditional breakbu

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American Journal of Transportation