The bistate commission overseeing the proposed $5 billion port on South Carolina side of the Savannah River pushed forward with an updated market study and approval of its next operating budget today.
The commission, known as the Joint Project Office, met in Charleston at the S.C. State Ports Authority headquarters. It approved a $1.4 million budget for the next fiscal year, a cost shared between the SPA and Georgia Ports Authority. The budget addresses expenses such as engineering and professional services.
The Jasper Ocean Terminal was conceived in 2008 as a shipping port on a 1,500-acre site in Jasper County on what is now a dredge spoil area downriver from Savannah.
The project is in the planning stages and has become tangled in controversy over a 16-year-old plan to deepen the river to support the Port of Savannah.
The commission’s board also approved a market study that will look at the economic conditions and the reach of the proposed port, updating a study conducted roughly four years ago.
SPA CEO Jim Newsome said he believes the Jasper port won’t be needed before 2029 due to a slower world economy.
Commission chairman Jim Balloun of Georgia said 2029 was an estimate and no construction money will be spent until it’s clear the terminal is financially viable.
The panel also agreed to draft a proposal for a $1 million capacity study of the port, an expense to be shared evenly between both states.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.