South Carolina might get a second inland port facility — this time along the Interstate 95 corridor in Dillon County.
CSX would service the proposed new inland port. Newsome said he expects to have an agreement in place with the rail line by the end of this year and have the site operational in early 2018.
The port is considering a site within the Carolinas I-95 Mega Site, a roughly 2,500-acre industrial park between Dillon and Latta. Harbor Freight Tools operates a facility within the park.
The new inland port would require a steady cargo base over time and a launch customer initially — like BMW Manufacturing Co. was for the Inland Port in Greer — but Newsome said the Dillon site does not yet have a launch customer.
The project is in the early stages of planning; the port has been in talks with county and railroad representatives thus far.
Newsome said the Dillon facility would better connect cargo to the Port of Charleston marine terminals, as well as remove more trucks from the highways and help attract economic development to Dillon County. The Greer inland port is credited with helping recruit Dollar Tree Inc.’s distribution center in Cherokee and Spartanburg counties.
Inland ports are “catalysts for distribution center development, particularly when on a major highway,” Newsome said.
Next steps include negotiating an agreement with CSX. In Greer, Norfolk Southern Railway paid for the rail infrastructure, the port paid for the inland port infrastructure, and the port manages the facility. Newsome said operations in Dillon would mirror those in Greer.
Once that agreement is in hand, the ports authority board would vote on the proposal and the funding. Newsome expects the Dillon project to cost around $30 million, including the land purchase and site prep work. The port plans to pursue around $10 million in infrastructure funding from the federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant program.
Hamburg Port Consulting is studying the design, footprint, costs and construction timeline of the project.
Newsome said the flat topography within such a site-ready industrial park and a nearby cargo base — both in-state and along the border in North Carolina — would make the launch in Dillon much easier than in Greer. During construction there, the port had to flatten a bumpy site and work during a very rainy season.
Newsome said he expects the Dillon facility to be about half the size of the Greer facility, which is expected to reach 100,000 rail lifts this calendar year, but declined to say how large of a tract would be needed in Dillon.
“Inland Port Greer is one of SCPA’s most successful investments, as the growth of intermodal container volume movement in our state and region requires appropriate facilities in the interior to ground loaded and empty containers and to leverage the efficiency and sustainability of rail transportation,” Newsome said. “If it is feasible, an additional inland port will be a great diversification of our logistics footprint.”
Reach staff writer Liz Segrist at 843-849-3119 or @lizsegrist on Twitter.