N. Charleston wants input from truckers

A container transfer yard for trains and trucks will support the new shipping terminal the State Ports Authority is building on the south end of the former Navy base (above).

The state’s development of a new railyard to support expanded port operations in North Charleston is expected to draw more trucks to the city.

That’s why North Charleston officials are seeking input from the local trucking industry as it works on a comprehensive traffic study to identify the impact of rail and roadway traffic related to maritime and rail operations.

“This study will create deliverable and enforceable designated truck routes through the city,” said North Charleston City Councilman Ron Brinson.

Brinson was keynote speaker Thursday at the Charleston Motor Carriers Association meeting.

The retired Port of New Orleans CEO urged the association to help the city as it works on its “Surface Transportation Impact Study.”

The study stemmed from the 2012 legal settlement between the city and Palmetto Railways, a division of the S.C. Department of Commerce. The city sued the agency, saying some North Charleston residents opposed the idea of more freight trains coming near their homes.

The study is being conducted with the help of North Charleston, Palmetto Railways, the State Ports Authority and S.C. Department of Transportation.

“This data is being assembled in a very sophisticated way and we are probably about six months away from sitting down and designating truck routes,” Brinson said. “One message I want to give you folks today on behalf of our city is we want you at the table.”

Palmetto Railways’ 90-acre yard, known as the Navy Base Intermodal Facility, is a $180 million project where shipping containers will be transferred between trucks and trains. The SPA is building a new container port nearby.

Both projects are expected to be completed in 2018, officials have said.

“We are talking about a port that will double container volume over the next 10 to 15 years and then assume a growth rate that will grow in another 10 years. We have to understand that trucks can’t just be going any which way,” Brinson said. “That’s not good for the truckers or the impact on the community.”

Local trucking officials applauded North Charleston’s efforts to seek input.

Keith Johnson, president of the motor carriers association, said Thursday that the opportunity will allow the industry to suggest preferred routes.

“Everything can’t be on I-526 and I-26,” said Johnson, owner of H&J Trucking in Charleston. “It’s not practical and not economical, and that’s why it is important we have a seat at the table.”

Reach Tyrone Richardson at 937-5550 or twitter.com/tyrichardsonPC.