State of the Ports speech hints at new projects and record post-pandemic fiscal years

CHARLESTON, South Carolina (WCSC) – Barbara Melvin, president and CEO of South Carolina Ports, addressed stakeholders Monday while delivering the State of the Ports address. She described the record fiscal year, detailed future plans and explained how the ports recovered from the pandemic and supply chain crisis.

Melvin spoke of flexible hours with ports open seven days a week, using inland ports to place cargo and remaining open to time changes for maritime cargo landings. She says a major help was using a chassis, a truck trailer containing a sea freight container, to get things done quickly.

“These are the fluidity measures that we have implemented and will continue throughout this year for the benefit of our customers and our maritime community,” says Melvin.

Also on Monday, the agency held a groundbreaking ceremony for the naval base’s intermodal facilities. An intermodal facility is a place where the port can send shipping containers from terminals where the containers can then be picked up by trains.

The nearby Hugh Leatherman is connected to the facility by a dedicated road. Across the water, Wando Welch Terminals will be able to send containers on barges down the Cooper River to the facility. There, Norfolk Southern and CSX Railways will load the double-stacked containers onto trains for inland shipping.

The state legislature invested $150 million for the Inner Barge Harbor Plan and $450 million for construction of the Naval Base Intermodal Facility.

“You have to find the next generation of infrastructure projects that you are going to invest in. That’s what the naval base intermodal facility means to us. With a barge in the inland harbour, it will give us the means to transport goods competitively in addition to what our road carriers transport for us. It’s 25% of our business, which is transported by train,” says Melvin.

Melvin also encouraged anyone interested to come to a Union Pier redevelopment community meeting next week. Union Pier will soon become a port of call for cruise ships instead of a home port and will use part of the waterfront for development.

“I believe this project will be transformational for the City of Charleston by returning waterfront access to many people throughout the city. So we can’t wait to deliver a really good project that everyone will be proud of,” says Melvin.

His key points from the State of Ports Address included how Charleston rose to the nation’s eighth port from ninth last year. She also shared that in the record year, eleven of the twelve months were record months. As Charleston continues to grow, she hopes the state will continue to value and invest in the growing industry that is creating more than $63 billion in economic impact statewide.

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