After rain delays, S.C. set to open first inland port
Larry Thomas -- Furniture Today, September 2, 2013
GREER, S.C. - An unusually wet summer in the Carolinas has delayed the opening of South Carolina's new inland port here, but the state's Ports Authority now says the first containers will arrive at the facility in mid-October.
The new port - which is opening more than a month behind schedule - will provide a vital rail link for importers and exporters using the Port of Charleston, port officials say.
Allison Skipper, spokeswoman for the South Carolina Ports Authority, said 70 "rain days" since the March groundbreaking have caused repeated delays. Unlike traditional construction projects that involve erecting buildings, the port project primarily involves moving about 950,000 cubic yards of dirt and laying down concrete pavement, she said.
In addition, a railroad spur connecting the site to the nearby Norfolk Southern main line had to be built, and three rubber-tired gantry cranes were dismantled and moved to the site from the Charleston port.
Despite the setbacks, she said the Ports Authority remains optimistic the project will stimulate the economy of the "upstate region," as the area is called, and encourage more importers and exporters to use the Charleston port.
Skipper noted that a warehouse already is under construction on property adjacent to the inland port that is owned by the Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport. It's the first of what port officials believe will be several similar investments in the area.
The Greer facility features a 40-acre container yard. It initially will have 552 container "slots" and capacity for about 40,000 containers annually.
Containers arriving at the Charleston port will be transported to the Greer facility via the Norfolk Southern rail line. Two 2,600-foot working tracks at the port are connected to Norfolk's main line, and some 5,200 feet of storage track also has been built.
Port officials said the upstate region, which is situated between the key markets of Charlotte, N.C., and Atlanta, already has the largest concentration of port users in South Carolina. In addition, some 94 million consumers live within a one-day drive of the area.
The project is costing about $35 million. The Ports Authority has contracted with Illinois-based CenterPoint Properties to develop the site. CenterPoint earlier developed an inland port in Joliet, Ill., that is the largest inland port in North America.