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South Carolina Ports rides rails to robust January

Ocean containers handled up 2.5% year-over-year

The South Carolina Ports Authority reported a 2.5% year-over-year increase in container volumes in January. (Photo: SCPA/English Purcell)

Rail moves may be just as important to the South Carolina Ports Authority as those on water, so the SCPA can raise a glass to the record-setting January at Inland Port Greer.   

Inland Port Greer, the SCPA’s rail-served port in upstate South Carolina, recorded 13,401 rail moves, its best January and a 16% hike year-over-year. 

Container volumes were also up in January. South Carolina Ports handled 216,265 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) at the Wando Welch and North Charleston container terminals, compared to 211,020 TEUs in January 2020, a 2.5% year-over-year increase. 

From July 1, when the SCPA’s fiscal year began, through Jan. 31, the ports handled more than 1.43 million TEUs. That’s down less than 1% — 9,745 TEUs — from the 1,439,790 TEUs moved in the same period in 2019-20.

Thus far in the fiscal year, the Port of Charleston has moved 147,936 vehicles, up nearly 13% from the same period in the last fiscal year. The SCPA said it had 12,189 vehicles roll across its docks at the Columbus Street Terminal in January. That figure was down from the 15,577 vehicles moved in January 2020. 

Also down was Inland Port Dillon, the rail-served inland port in the Pee Dee region of South Carolina, which reported 2,870 rail moves in January, a dip from the 3,237 in 2020.  

South Carolina Ports already shared good news in February. Last week it was announced that The Keith Corp. had broken ground on the largest speculative industrial facility ever built in the Charleston region — a more than 1 million-square-foot cross-dock building in the Charleston Trade Center in Summerville, South Carolina, about 30 miles from the Port of Charleston.

According to an announcement from the SCPA, the facility “has been specifically designed to capture port-reliant users with features including 40-foot clear height, 120 fully equipped dock doors, two drive-in doors, ESFR fire protection, LED lighting and expansion parking for cars and trailers. The project site is located on the front 62.32 acres of the Charleston Trade Center, which is highly visible from Interstate 26.”

The facility is projected to open in the fourth quarter of this year. 

“Industrial tenants can benefit from this modern facility located in a very attractive real estate market, as well as from proximity to the state-of-the-art Hugh K. Leatherman Terminal, which will soon launch container operations,” said Micah Mallace, South Carolina Ports’ senior vice president of marketing and sales, in a statement. “South Carolina Ports is excited to partner on the marketing efforts for this building with The Keith Corp., which has extensive experience in developing industrial facilities in Charleston. We look forward to welcoming port-dependent tenants to the building later this year.”

The $1 billion first phase of the Hugh K. Leatherman Terminal, which will open in March, includes a 1,400-foot wharf, five ship-to-shore cranes with 169 feet of lift height above the wharf deck, 25 hybrid rubber-tired gantry cranes and a 47-acre container yard. 

The new industrial facility will join four existing buildings also developed by The Keith Corp. on the Charleston Trade Center campus: IFA, a German automotive supplier; RPM, an importer of coffee beans; Curtiss-Wright, a diversified product manufacturer; and a fully leased 136,500-square-foot, multitenant building.

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Click here 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.