Features

Published on September 11th, 2014 | by Millennium Magazine Staff

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Port of Charleston gets $11 million for terminal upgrades at Wando Welch

Written by Liz Segrist

The S.C. State Ports Authority will receive nearly $11 million from a federal grant to fund infrastructure improvements at the Wando Welch Terminal in Mount Pleasant.

South Carolina received roughly $21 million from the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant program through the U.S. Department of Transportation, U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn announced recently.

About $10 million of the Tiger grant funding will go toward revitalization efforts in the North Main Street area in Columbia, with the remaining designated for port improvements.

The ports authority has been planning to upgrade the terminal with more piles, stronger wharves and bigger cranes to accommodate the larger ships headed for the Port of Charleston.

“This announcement couldn’t be more timely, given the information shared by industry experts at this week’s SC International Trade Conference,” said Jim Newsome, S.C. Ports Authority president and CEO, in a statement. “The prevailing sentiment throughout the maritime community and supporting industries is that ports are facing significant infrastructure improvement needs. It is clear that post-Panamax vessels are the new standard and that port competitiveness is and will continue to be driven by the ability to accommodate big ships.”

Ports authorities across the country are rushing to deepen their harbors to at least 50 feet and to strengthen their terminals. The Port of Charleston’s terminals need to be able to handle the wear and tear caused by bigger ships, Newsome said.

The terminal was designed in the 1980s to accommodate ships that can handle roughly 4,000 20-foot equivalent units, a common industry measurement known as TEU.

As ocean carriers now are ordering ships in the 10,000- to 19,000-TEU range, port terminals need to be able to handle at least 14,000-TEU ships to remain competitive, according to Alphaliner.

Ocean carriers are trending toward larger ships to meet companies’ and customers’ demands. Several infrastructure projects, including the deepening of the Panama Canal, the widening of the Suez Canal and the raising of the Bayonne Bridge, are also contributing to the trend toward bigger ships.

Construction is set to begin on the Wando Welch Terminal in the spring and take several years to complete, Newsome said.

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