Inland port facilities seen advancing South Carolina’s cargo capabilities
It might be said that behind every successful seaport is at least one flourishing inland port.
Jim Newsome, president and chief executive officer of the South Carolina Port Authority, told the American Journal of Transportation that future plans not only include augmenting Inland Port Greer with a second intermodal facility in Dillon, near the South Carolina-North Carolina line, but also could include at least one more such hub. “Selective development of inland infrastructure is again critical to the development of a port, because it makes cargo move more efficiently,” Newsome said. “Any time you can make use of short-haul rail, it’s a good thing.”
With diverse base cargos from such corporate giants as BMW, Adidas, Michelin and Eastman Chemical Co., the Greer facility has achieved 100,000 rail lifts in its third full year – two years earlier than projected.
“Greer has been a resounding success,” Newsome said of the $50 million SCPA-funded project.
Located 220 miles northwest of the Port of Charleston’s Wando Welch Terminal, Inland Port Greer is served by Norfolk Southern Railway trains double-stacked with containers, bringing cargo between the port and upstate South Carolina as an alternative to trucking along Interstate 26.
Greer – just off I-85 between the South Carolina cities of Greenville and Spartanburg – is within 500 miles of 100 million consumers.
“Greer enabled us to convert a lot of existing traffic to intermodal rail, and it’s become a catalyst for future economic development as it is a very lucrative place for biog-box retail distribution,” Newsome said, citing as a recent example the opening this year by Dollar Tree Inc. of a 1.5 million-square-foot facility in Cowpens, S.C., immediately proximate to I-85.
Now, he said, plans are proceeding toward development of SCPA’s next inland port, on an existing CSX Transportation rail mainline and along I-95, just south of the North Carolina line in Dillon, a location perhaps best known to north-south travelers as home of the campy Mexican-themed South of the Border attraction. The site is about 150 miles north-northeast of the Wando Welch Terminal.
Newsome said hopes are to have the Dillon facility open by the end of 2017, adding, “We don’t think it will ever be as big as Greer.
“And then,” Newsome said, “who knows, hopefully there’s one or two other locations that we can develop inland ports in South Carolina to serve our cargo base.”