Newsome pushes infrastructure investments for port’s growth

S.C. Ports Authority (SCPA) President and CEO Jim Newsome last week told 600 customers and leaders outlined the organization’s successes and strategic infrastructure investments to continue growth during the annual State of the Port address at the Charleston Area Convention Center.

“We had a really good year in fiscal year 2018,” Newsome said. “We saw record cargo come through the Port, and we completed the Wando Welch Terminal refurbishment project. We worked together as a team towards a vision of being the preferred port of the top 10 U.S. Ports.”

The SCPA’s volumes for the 2018 fiscal year, which ran July 2017 through June 2018, were record-breaking, according to a press release.  The port handled 2.2 million 20-foot equivalent container units (TEUs), an increase of 3 percent over the previous fiscal year. March through June marked the highest months of container volume in the port’s history. In breakbulk, or non-containerized cargo, Charleston handled 760,501 pier tons during FY 2018. Within the breakbulk business segment, SCPA moved 232,390 vehicles across the docks of the Columbus Street Terminal.

Approximately 22 percent of the port’s container cargo moves via intermodal rail including freight moving to Inland Port Greer which is 212 miles from Charleston in the upstate. The Greer facility achieved 117,812 rail moves in FY18. With the success of Inland Port Greer, SCPA opened Inland Port Dillon, in the northeastern part of the state, in April.

Key financial metrics include operating cash flow of $85 million and nearly $214 million in capital expenditures.  

In addition to volume growth, SCPA achieved significant progress of key infrastructure projects in FY2018.

  • The nearly three-year effort to strengthen and refurbish the Wando Welch Terminal wharf was completed in July, which allows the facility to handle three neo-Panamax ships at the same time.
  • Construction on the Charleston Harbor Deepening Project to 52 feet, which began in February, is well underway with three Great Lakes Dock and Dredge Company dredges currently at work in the entrance channel to the harbor.
  • The Hugh K. Leatherman Sr. Terminal also saw progress in FY18 with the completion of the fill phase.
  • The SCPA Board also approved a $53.8 million contract for construction of the wharf structure for phase one of the facility, which has begun. The new terminal will open in 2021 to accommodate growth of the Port’s containerized cargo business.

In the future, the release said the port will continue to invest heavily to accommodate container volume growth and the efficient handling of big ships. East Coast ports have seen a continued increase in container volumes since the Panama Canal expansion. A nearly $400 million enhancement project is underway at the Wando Welch Terminal. Upon completion, the facility will offer 15 ship-to-shore (STS) cranes with 155 feet of lift height; 65 rubber-tired gantry (RTG) cranes; 25 empty handlers; 40 gates; a dedicated chassis yard; and optimized operations allowing for a 2.4 million TEUs capacity. Read full article.