State Ports Authority to consider inland port
The State Ports Authority has called a special board meeting Monday to discuss engineering services for an Upstate “South Carolina Inland Port” — something that’s been discussed for years but doesn’t yet exist.
An inland port is a terminal located sometimes hundreds of miles from the sea, where shipping containers can be transferred from trucks to trains. The Port of Virginia, for example, has an inland port located 220 miles from its shore-side terminals.
The State Ports Authority was tight-lipped about its plans this afternoon, when notice of the teleconference board meeting was released.
“All we’re prepared to say at this point is that the SC Ports Authority board will consider a contract for an engineering study for an inland port in the Upstate region of South Carolina,” said SPA Public Relations Manager Allison Skipper.
The concept of a South Carolina inland port has been studied at least several times, and locations ranging from the Orangeburg area to the Spartanburg area have been proposed.
A 2002 state study questioned the economic benefits and concluded that ongoing subsidies would be required, much to the surprise of public officials who championed the idea.
South Carolina’s 2008 statewide rail plan revisited the concept, and said potential benefits could include relieving road congestion, spurring economic development, and enhancing port competitiveness.
“Based on the analyses performed, an inland terminal in the Upstate provides the greatest proportional share of public benefits and it is also a location with a large concentration of Port customers,” said the study by Wilbur Smith Associates.
Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Bonneau, the chairman of the state’s Port Oversight Commission, said he can’t yet discuss the inland port idea, but said it’s a good idea and he hopes the board moves forward with it.
He said the property involve is owned by the SPA, and is not in Charleston.
The state’s rail study described a potential Upstate inland port location as the area connected by interstates 85, 26 and 385. The Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport sits on I-85 between the two other interstates, and that’s where the BMW automobile plant is located, on roughly 800 acres of land owned by the SPA.
Read more in Saturday’s editions of The Post and Courier.