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South Carolina transportation plan touted as road map for future growth

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Port of Charleston
The S.C. Department of Transportation will be drawing up a 25-year statewide multimodal plan centered on moving freight to and from the Port of Charleston. (Photo/File)

By Chuck Crumbo
ccrumbo@scbiznews.com
Published April 27, 2012

A statewide transportation plan aimed at bolstering South Carolina’s distribution and logistics network should set the table for economic growth through the 21st century, experts and industry officials say.

 Read more about this story in the April 30 issue of the Columbia Regional Business Report. Subscribe here.

Read more about this story in the April 30 issue of the Columbia Regional Business Report. Subscribe here.

States that focus investment in transportation, distribution and logistics infrastructure seem to do well economically, and South Carolina already has the key ingredients, said Scott Mason, a professor of industrial engineering at Clemson University.

“There are fantastic opportunities here given the modes of transportation, the companies that are here and the industry,” said Mason, who serves as the Fluor Endowed Chair in Supply Chain Optimization and Logistics at Clemson.

The S.C. Department of Transportation will be drawing up a 25-year statewide multimodal plan centered on moving freight to and from the Port of Charleston.

The plan will set priorities for future transportation infrastructure requirements and serve as a tool to spur job creation, business expansion and education, officials said.

It also will analyze infrastructure requirements, as well as rail, freight and transit components, according to S.C. Transportation Secretary Robert St. Onge.

Advocates say the need is urgent, citing a $5.3 billion overhaul that will increase the capacity of the Panama Canal by October 2014. When completed, the largest cargo ships in the world will flow from the west through the canal and call on Charleston and other seaports along the coast.

“It’s very important that we keep our eye on the ball,” said Brian Gwin, South Carolina manager for Norfolk Southern.

A transportation plan, said John Carr, an associate of the consulting firm CDM Smith, will serve as a roadmap to a South Carolina of the future and shape the economy.

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