COLUMBIA — The South Carolina Ports Authority is asking the Legislature for $5 million toward a future terminal in Jasper County that CEO Jim Newsome says will be needed after Charleston's port reaches capacity.
The money requested for the fiscal year starting July 1 would pay for continued permitting and design work for the terminal, a joint project with the Georgia Ports Authority, which will contribute a matching $5 million in 2018-19, Newsome told a House budget-writing panel Wednesday.
Once the third phase of the Hugh K. Leatherman Terminal is completed, estimated to be 2032, Charleston's port won't be able to grow anymore, Newsome said.
"That's the last container terminal capacity in Charleston. If the Southeast is going to grow, it will eventually need this facility — not overnight, but long term," he said. "We need to work on this now."
The construction timeline of the 1,500-acre Jasper port is unknown. It's expected to cost $5 billion, most of which will be arranged by the two port authorities. Significant roadwork will be needed to access the terminal, but how much taxpayers will ultimately be asked to contribute is also unknown, said South Carolina ports spokeswoman Erin Dhand.
Gov. Henry McMaster did not include money for Jasper County port preparation in his budget proposal released Monday.
The first phase of the Leatherman terminal, under construction on the former Navy Base in North Charleston, is set to open in 2020.