CHARLESTON, SC (WCBD) — South Carolina’s Ports Authority had a record-breaking fiscal year for 2017, setting the bar high as the group heads into 2018.
“We’re seeing a number of economic development initiatives that will bring freight to the ports such as Samsung, Volvo’s announcement today, and continued growth of BMW,” said SCPA CEO Jim Newsome.
The much awaited harbor deepening project will have its first dredge next month. The General Assembly promised $300 million for the project back in 2012. A project study took about 6 years to complete.
“That doesn’t sound fast, but in the world of harbor deepening, that’s fast,” Newsome said.
“We plan to be aggressive about it. We’d like to see substantial completion by the end of 2019,” he said.
Once the dredging project is finished, larger ships will be able to make their way through. Some will be even bigger than the largest we’ve seen so far–The COSCO container ship that made its way to the Charleston Harbor in May.
Newsome also has a plan to keep traffic moving near the terminals. During the summer of 2016, many drivers endured the gridlock on I-526 near the Wando Terminal when a new check in system shut down.
“Literally, on our terminal, the system goes down 15 minutes, and we’re backed up on the freeway. We have 600 or 700 trucks an hour. It’s working fine right now. There will always be trucks relative to a containment terminal, so our job is to move them efficiently and safely as we can,” said Newsome.
Come this time next year, Newsome hopes to bring even more good news to the town that supports the economy on the water.
“This is a port town … This town grew because of the port. I think most people here have a great appreciation for that, and that’s very helpful to us,” Newsome said.
Newsome says he also has a plan to create an inner-harbor barge to move the containers to help cut down on interstate traffic.