Road to progress Fluor to lead project linking I-26, N. Charleston port terminal

A construction crew works on a retaining wall at a new container terminal being built at the former Navy base in North Charleston.

Fluor Corp. will lead the construction team that will build an access road connecting Interstate 26 with a new shipping terminal being built at the former Navy Base in North Charleston, the company said Tuesday.

Texas-based Fluor will form a joint venture with Fluor-Lane South Carolina and The Lane Construction Corp. to build the $250 million, 1.2-mile road to the new port terminal, named after state Sen. Hugh K. Leatherman, R-Florence.

“We understand the economic importance of commerce and the statewide impact the Port of Charleston has on this region,” Hans Dekker, president of Fluor’s infrastructure business, said in a statement. “We believe our local team is uniquely qualified to deliver this design-build project on time and on budget ... to support the vitality of the fastest-growing major container port in the U.S.”

Erin Dhand, spokeswoman for the State Ports Authority, called the construction team “leaders in the engineering and construction field.”

“This project is an important step in the development of the Leatherman Terminal, and it marks exciting progress toward the port’s vision of the opening of the new terminal, a new dual-served intermodal rail facility and deeper harbor by the end of the decade,” Dhand said.

A majority of the access road will be elevated to minimize its impact on the environment and existing infrastructure, such as Shipyard Creek and a CSX railyard. The road will require a new interchange on I-26 near the existing Spruill Avenue and Meeting Street interchanges. The Spruill interchange will be closed and the Meeting interchange redesigned.

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Most of the construction costs are in hand through state and federal funds. The SPA will pay about $67.5 million toward the project.

The Leatherman Terminal will cost about $700 million, and its first phase is scheduled for completion in 2019.

That is about the same time a separate $509 million project to deepen Charleston Harbor to 52 feet from 45 feet is supposed to be finished.

Palmetto Railways, a division of the state Commerce Department, is building a $130 million transfer yard near the new terminal where cargo will be loaded onto and off of trains.