October 17, 2022

SC Ports developing near-dock rail at the Port of Charleston

Governor McMaster, elected officials, SC Ports leadership, Palmetto Railways, CSX and Norfolk Southern broke ground on SC Ports’ new rail-served intermodal yard today. (Photo/SCPA/Janie Traywick)

CHARLESTON, SC — OCT. 17, 2022 — With great support from South Carolina elected leaders, South Carolina Ports will soon have near-dock rail and an inner-harbor barge operation to ensure fluidity and capacity for the Southeast supply chain.

SC Ports officials and elected officials gathered today in North Charleston to celebrate the groundbreaking of the Navy Base Intermodal Facility. SC Ports is developing the rail-served intermodal yard to provide near-dock rail to the Port of Charleston.

“This resolves the last remaining competitive disadvantage we have as a major East Coast container port,” SC Ports President and CEO Barbara Melvin said. “This critical infrastructure project will greatly enhance SC Ports’ capacity, allowing imports and exports to swiftly move between the hinterland and the Port of Charleston.”

The Navy Base Intermodal Facility sits about one mile from Leatherman Terminal. Containers will be moved to and from the Leatherman Terminal on a dedicated road. Inside the intermodal yard, rail-mounted gantry cranes will lead containers on and off trains.

In partnership with Palmetto Railways, Class I railroads CSX and Norfolk Southern will utilize SC Ports’ state-of-the-art rail yard to further enhance rail competitiveness. Nearly 80,000 feet of rail track will create a capacity of 1 million rail lifts in Phase 1.

The Navy Base Intermodal Facility will also further enhance SC Ports' successful, rail-served Inland Ports in Greer and Dillon.

SC Ports’ inner-harbor barge operation will support the Navy Base Intermodal Facility by moving containers between Wando Welch Terminal and Leatherman Terminal via a designated marine highway. This creative solution addresses trucking capacity as more cargo continues to flow through SC Ports.

“The inner-harbor barge operation and innovative rail yard will add critical capacity to our port market,” Melvin said. “These investments will further support our customers’ supply chains and attract additional cargo to our port, supporting job creation throughout South Carolina.”

The SC Legislature and Governor Henry McMaster have allocated a total of $550 million to fully fund these projects — $400 million for the rail yard and $150 million for the barge operation.

“We are so grateful to our state leaders for their bold vision and for understanding what South Carolina’s businesses need to be successful,” Melvin said. “Because of their support, our strategic investments in critical port infrastructure will yield dividends to South Carolina for decades to come.”

These projects, which are slated to open in July 2025, will complement the more than $2 billion SC Ports has already invested in its infrastructure and operations to remain competitive as a top 10 U.S. container port.

“South Carolina Ports is widely known as a top driver of our state’s booming economy, but that success doesn’t come overnight or by accident — it takes timely, strategic investment and innovative leadership,” Governor Henry McMaster said. “The latest investment in the Navy Base Intermodal Facility is the next step towards growing not only the Port of Charleston, but our state’s economy as a whole.”

The Navy Base Intermodal Facility is set to open in Jul 2025. (Rendering/SCPA)

Notable quotes from elected leaders

“An investment in our SC Ports is an investment in South Carolina — unlocking new economic potential through new business and new jobs. The Ports’ rail-served intermodal facility and inner-harbor barge operation projects will make South Carolina more competitive and foster economic growth, which is a win for all South Carolinians.”— Speaker Murrell Smith

“The Port has made tremendous investments into its infrastructure in recent years to remain competitive as a top 10 U.S. container port. More than 50% of the port’s economic impact is in the Upstate region. To further that impact, our state is investing in critical, rail-served port infrastructure, which will yield dividends for our state, and the Upstate, for decades to come.” — Senator Harvey Peeler, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee

“By investing in the Navy Base Intermodal Facility and inner-harbor barge operation, we are supporting our supply chain and all the businesses that depend on it to be successful. Having a well-run port with world-class facilities yields significant, lasting economic benefits for our state.” — Chairman Gary Simrill, House Ways and Means Committee

“SC Ports’ growth creates a ripple effect across our state, bringing new economic development, investment and jobs for our citizens. We look forward to seeing the positive impact of the Navy Base Intermodal Facility and inner-harbor barge operation to further benefit our port-dependent businesses.” — Senate President Thomas Alexander

“Many of our industries rely on SC Ports to move their products to global markets. The development of a near-dock, rail-served cargo facility and inner-harbor barge operation is crucial to supporting the efficient flow of goods throughout our state. Our commitment to build vital port infrastructure will ensure South Carolina remains globally competitive for decades to come.” — Senator Larry Grooms, chairman of the S.C. Senate Transportation Committee and the Review and Oversight Commission on the South Carolina State Ports Authority

“South Carolina is one of the few states in the nation with a top 10 U.S. container port. Our continued investment in strategic port infrastructure keeps South Carolina competitive, and SC Ports’ growth brings prosperity and jobs to our state.” — Senator Nikki Setzler, chairman of the Joint Bond Review Fiscal Oversight Subcommittee

“Having a successful port ensures our port-dependent businesses grow. With the support of our SC Legislature, SC Ports will build the Navy Base Intermodal Facility to bring near-dock rail to the Port of Charleston. Our companies will undoubtedly benefit from this well-planned, critical infrastructure project.” — Chairman Bill Sandifer, Chairman of the House Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee and vice chairman of the Review and Oversight Commission on the South Carolina State Ports Authority

“We are proud to invest in these next-generation port infrastructure projects to ensure that we don’t fall behind and that we remain competitive as a state. This is just one of many examples of what our state has done to support our excellent port system, helping to create jobs in communities around the state.” — Representative Gilda Cobb-Hunter

“The Port of Charleston is currently the only port on the East Coast without on-dock or near-dock rail. With great support from our SC Legislature, we are now changing that. The Navy Base Intermodal Facility will make SC Ports more competitive. Additionally, the inner-harbor barge operation will benefit the Charleston region by moving more containers via water and train to help reduce highway congestion.” — Representative Leon Stavrinakis

“As state leaders, it is our job to make sure we are bringing economic opportunities to our communities. We are investing in critical port infrastructure to support the growth of our port, which brings significant investment and jobs to our state. By investing today, we look forward to seeing the generational impacts of tomorrow.” — House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford

“When we choose to invest in projects as a state, we do so to create jobs for the hardworking people of South Carolina. Over the years, our investments into port infrastructure have proven to benefit our state. SC Ports’ new rail-served cargo yard and inner-harbor barge operation will also serve a great return on investment for South Carolinians.” — Senator Marlon Kimpson, District 42

“Many South Carolinians depend on the Port of Charleston for their businesses and their livelihoods. As SC Ports grows, our state succeeds. Our continued investment in port infrastructure will create more high-paying jobs for years to come. While SC Ports provides jobs for our citizens, they don't stop there. They also invest in our communities by supporting local organizations and nonprofits that are boots on the ground.” — Representative Deon Tedder

Notable quotes from project partners

 “The Port of Charleston is an important economic engine for South Carolina and plays a critical role in our nation's supply chain. The Navy Base Intermodal Facility will improve capacity to serve our customers through the Port of Charleston and provide access to markets across the country. We are privileged to be a partner to the Port and provide rail access to their facilities for our customers around the world.” — Ed Elkins, Norfolk Southern Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer

 “CSX is proud of our long-standing partnership with the state of South Carolina and the South Carolina Ports Authority. We are committed to the development of the Navy Base Intermodal Facility, which will allow CSX to improve service while increasing capacity and efficiency of intermodal rail at the Port of Charleston.” — Maryclare Kenney, CSX vice president of Intermodal and Auto

 “As the Southeast economy and the Port of Charleston continue to grow, the demand for transporting more goods in and out of the Charleston region is increasing. The Navy Base Intermodal Facility will add more fluidity and capacity to our supply chain as we move more cargo by rail. We look forward to providing safe and efficient rail service at the rail-served intermodal yard, in partnership with South Carolina Ports, Norfolk Southern and CSX.” —Palmetto Railways CEO Patrick McCrory

About South Carolina Ports Authority

South Carolina Ports Authority, established by the state's General Assembly in 1942, owns and operates public seaport and intermodal facilities in Charleston, Dillon, Georgetown and Greer. As an economic development engine for the state, Port operations facilitate 225,000 statewide jobs and generate nearly $63.4 billion in annual economic activity. SC Ports is soon to be home to the deepest harbor on the U.S. East Coast at 52 feet. SC Ports is an industry leader in delivering speed-to-market, seamless processes and flexibility to ensure reliable operations, big ship handling, efficient market reach and environmental responsibility. Please visit www.scspa.com to learn more about SC Ports.