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Georgia, South Carolina joint port plan may face hurdles

Georgia, South Carolina joint port plan may face hurdles

The effort by the governors of South Carolina and Georgia to form a new joint port authority to build a terminal in Jasper County, S.C., across the river from Savannah, may not be a cakewalk.

   An article in the Columbia, S.C. newspaper The State noted that the proposal “is far from a done deal,” because among other things, uncertainty about whether legislators in both states will agree to it.

   The newspaper reported that Senate President Pro Tem Glenn McConnell, R-Charleston, was contending South Carolina needed to have a “lead position” in the deal for the port.

   Last week, the South Carolina House approved and sent to the state Senate a bill calling for the South Carolina State Ports Authority to “continue and bring to its earliest conclusion the action” against the 1,800-acre tract along the north bank of the Savannah River where the governors envision building the terminal.

   While physically in South Carolina, the property was purchased about two decades ago by Georgia as a site to dispose of dredge spoil accumulated from dredging of the ship channel to Savannah.

   The South Carolina Ports Authority said Tuesday that while it applauded the collaboration by the governors, it would “continue efforts to acquire the site through condemnation and will support the legislative efforts underway in Columbia.”

   George Israel III, president and chief executive officer of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce said: “I don’t see any resistance in Georgia to the plan. It has not been fractious.”

   He said the deal would bring additional opportunities to the manufacturers, warehousemen and other logistics companies in both states.

   He said that while Savannah is nowhere near capacity, it made sense to create additional marine terminals given projections of increasing cargo that is coming to the Southeast rather than to ports on the West Coast where congestion is a growing problem.

   Lucy Duncan-Scheman, chief executive of Carolinks, a company that is developing a large warehousing logistic complex at an 800-acre site off of Interstate 95 about equidistant between Charleston and Savannah, thought the proposal for the new terminal “fantastic.”

   Cooperation by the two states “tells the steamship lines this is an excellent place for them, we are planning for growth and the berths they will need in the future,” she said.

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