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Inland South Carolina ports set record

Containers and vehicles moved at Port of Charleston still down slightly year-over-year

The South Carolina Ports Authority reported a busy October at Wando Welch Terminal. (Photo: SCPA/Walter Lagarenne)

The South Carolina Ports Authority’s (SCPA) headline numbers did not come from the seashore.

The SCPA said Monday that its two inland ports had a record October with a combined total of 16,404 rail moves. Inland Port Greer reported 12,935 rail moves, up 9.2% year-over-year, and Inland Port Dillon had 3,469 rail moves, up nearly 40% from October 2019.

The SCPA said its overall October volumes “show an ongoing recovery and strength in containers, vehicles and inland ports.”

The ports authority handled 216,196 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) at the Wando Welch and North Charleston container terminals in October, down less than 1% year-over-year. Between July 1, the start of the fiscal year, and Oct. 31, the SCPA handled 797,108 TEUs. 

Vehicle volumes are up more than 18% this fiscal year, with 93,681 vehicles handled from July through October, the SCPA said, although the 20,637 vehicles processed at the Columbus Street Terminal in Charleston in October were down slightly, less than 2% year-over-year.

“Our ongoing efforts to recruit more cargo to South Carolina Ports will further drive growth,” SCPA President and CEO Jim Newsome said in a release Monday. 

The SCPA pointed to announcements in recent months that Michelin will use Inland Port Greer to move cargo for its 3 million-square-foot distribution center and that Walmart is preparing to build a similarly sized facility in South Carolina’s Dorchester County. 

“Retail companies are seeing explosive growth during the pandemic and this boom presents a great opportunity for South Carolina Ports,” Newsome said. “We are pros at handling high-demand supply chain needs for the automotive and advanced manufacturing industry, which will translate seamlessly into supporting retail distribution.”

During his State of the Port address last month, Newsome said the SCPA is investing in port infrastructure to handle more cargo and bigger ships and promised that “2021 will be a truly historic year for the port.”

The Hugh K. Leatherman Terminal is on schedule to open in March and add 700,000 TEUs of annual throughput capacity. Five ship-to-shore cranes with 169 feet of lift height and four hybrid, rubber-tired gantry cranes have now been delivered to the terminal. 

“These tall cranes will be a significant addition to the Charleston skyline and will serve as a reminder for all in the area of the importance of what we do,” Newsome said.

Other projects include upgrades to the Wando Welch Terminal, which will result in 15 ship-to-shore cranes with 155 feet of lift height and 65 rubber-tired gantry cranes. Deepening of the Charleston Harbor to 52 feet is also on schedule.

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Click for more American Shipper/FreightWaves stories by Senior Editor Kim Link-Wills.

Kim Link Wills

Senior Editor Kim Link-Wills has written about everything from agriculture as a reporter for Illinois Agri-News to zoology as editor of the Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine. Her work has garnered awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Magazine Association of the Southeast. Prior to serving as managing editor of American Shipper, Kim spent more than four years with XPO Logistics.