Greer targeted for inland port; study to determine jobs, logistics

By Jim Fair, Editor
Published on Monday, July 9, 2012

The South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) has identified Greer as an inland port that will be developed to improve the efficiency of international container movements between Charleston and the Upstate. The inland port will serve the international and national communities.

The $23.5 million project is scheduled to take 18 months to build and create about 80-100 jobs upon completion, according to city council members. The project is pending approval of a $1.1 million engineering study with Patrick Engineering and its South Carolina partner Davis and Floyd.

“We’re excited the South Carolina Ports Authority took the opportunity to create this project in Greer,” said Reno Deaton, Greer Economic President. Deaton deferred all requests for information to the SCPA.

Rail, container handling and storage facilities will be serviced by the contract. Infrastructure, civil and structural site work is also included. Nick Stegall, General Manager of Greer Commission of Public Works said, “all four of our utilities are available in that area. We will serve it and we have plenty of capacity there."

In 1982, the SCPA acquired a 100-acre site in Greer for the purposes of building an inland port, but it never gained significant traction and has been largely dormant over the last 25 years. The property is where BMW Manufacturing Co. in Greer has its North American manufacturing headquarters. The Ports Authority owns the land BMW is situated.

“The I-26 corridor is a critical transportation artery in the Southeast. The development of this facility has the potential, in time, to improve the movement of freight in this corridor by converting 50,000 all-truck container moves to more efficient multimodal moves between the interior and the port. We see it as a game-changer for the port and the state of South Carolina,” said Jim Newsome, president and CEO of the SCPA. “The I-85 corridor, centered on the Greenville/Spartanburg area, is projected to be the fastest-growing part of the Southeast over the next 20 years.  This facility will be a further catalyst to the development of an enhanced distribution hub in this area.”

Norfolk Southern will operate the trains between Greer the port at Charleston.

A similar inland port was built in Front Royal, Va., and is serviced by Norfolk Southern. “I can’t speak for (Greer) but it created an environment at Front Royal to attract businesses who needed direct access to international shipping and interim shipping,” Robin Chapman, Director of Public Relations for Norfolk Southern, said. “Warehouses and storage facilities and manufacturing were created,” around the inland port. Chapman deferred all costs and jobs information to the SCPA.

“The successful growth of intermodal container movements in our state and the region requires the development of state-of-the-art container handling facilities in the interior able to ground loaded and empty containers and leverage the efficiency and sustainability of rail transportation,” said Newsome.

“The fact that the port will operate the facility provides an extension of our Charleston facilities into the hinterland, not dissimilar to the development of the Virginia Inland Port in Front Royal, Va., some years ago,” Newsome said.

The engineering study will define the land footprint required to support the facility, the final cost, and key operational aspects and will be performed on a fast-track basis consistent with the aggressive overall timetable for the project, the SCPA announced.

Upon the receipt of necessary permits, the SCPA intends to seek Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant funds due to the multimodal characteristics of the project.

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