The South Carolina Ports Authority announced plans to pursue a second inland port facility, driven by the success of Inland Port Greer and demand for enhanced efficiency of international container movements between the Port of Charleston and growing markets in South Carolina and North Carolina.
"Inland Port Greer is one of SCPA's most successful investments, as the growth of intermodal container volume movement in our state and region requires appropriate facilities in the interior to ground loaded and empty containers and to leverage the efficiency and sustainability of rail transportation," SCPA president and CEO Jim Newsome said
. "If it is feasible, an additional inland port will be a great diversification of our logistics footprint. We believe that building intermodal infrastructure in our state goes hand-in-hand with the significant investments we are making to our port facilities in Charleston. This is an exciting opportunity for SCPA."
Approximately 23 percent of containers imported or exported through Charleston last year moved by rail, with nearly 260,000 international intermodal rail lifts handled in 2015. Intermodal volume has seen staggering growth of 166 percent since 2011, driving increased demand for additional inland port facilities.
"While our discussions are preliminary, the success of Inland Port Greer demonstrates the market demand for additional intermodal hubs to support growing volumes of cargo moving to and from Charleston by rail," Newsome said. "We are working with CSX to determine the viability of Dillon, South Carolina as the location for our next inland port and hope to finalize our plans by the end of the year."
The Dillon site under SCPA consideration offers access to an existing CSX mainline, which opens a different intermodal marketplace from Inland Port Greer and provides access to Southeastern markets as well as the Midwest. Proximity to I-95, a critical transportation artery in the Southeast, is an important benefit of the location as well as current port users in the area, which represent significant base cargo opportunities for the facility.
"A second inland port in South Carolina would expand transportation options in the state, lowering shipping costs for South Carolina businesses and improving competitiveness," said Dean Piacente, CSX Vice President, Intermodal. "This project would also generate substantial public benefits by creating jobs, spurring economic development and reducing traffic congestion on I-26 and I-95."
The facility design and footprint, costs, and construction timeline are being studied by Hamburg Port Consultants (HPC). SCPA is pursuing federal infrastructure funding assistance through the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program to supplement the capital investment required for the project.
"According to a recent economic impact study, port-related jobs pay 40 percent higher than the statewide average," said T.F. Finklea, Dillon County Council Chairman. "We are excited about the possibility for Dillon to be the site of the next Inland Port and look forward to partnering with the South Carolina Ports Authority to help make this a reality. Today is a great day for Dillon and our region."