SC Ports developing near-dock rail at the Port of Charleston

October 18, 2022

With support from South Carolina elected leaders, South Carolina Ports will soon have near-dock rail and an inner-harbor barge operation to ensure fluidity and capacity for the Southeast supply chain.

SC Ports officials and elected officials gathered in North Charleston to celebrate the groundbreaking of the Navy Base Intermodal Facility. SC Ports is developing the rail-served intermodal yard to provide near-dock rail to the Port of Charleston.

“This resolves the last remaining competitive disadvantage we have as a major East Coast container port,” SC Ports President and CEO Barbara Melvin said. “This critical infrastructure project will greatly enhance SC Ports’ capacity, allowing imports and exports to swiftly move between the hinterland and the Port of Charleston.”

The Navy Base Intermodal Facility sits about one mile from Leatherman Terminal. Containers will be moved to and from the Leatherman Terminal on a dedicated road. Inside the intermodal yard, rail-mounted gantry cranes will lead containers on and off trains.

In partnership with Palmetto Railways, Class I railroads CSX and Norfolk Southern will utilize SC Ports’ state-of-the-art rail yard to further enhance rail competitiveness. Nearly 80,000 feet of rail track will create a capacity of 1 million rail lifts in Phase 1.

The Navy Base Intermodal Facility will also further enhance SC Ports’ successful, rail-served Inland Ports in Greer and Dillon.

SC Ports’ inner-harbor barge operation will support the Navy Base Intermodal Facility by moving containers between Wando Welch Terminal and Leatherman Terminal via a designated marine highway. This creative solution addresses trucking capacity as more cargo continues to flow through SC Ports.

The SC Legislature and Governor Henry McMaster have allocated a total of $550 million to fully fund these projects — $400 million for the rail yard and $150 million for the barge operation.

“We are so grateful to our state leaders for their bold vision and for understanding what South Carolina’s businesses need to be successful,” Melvin said. “Because of their support, our strategic investments in critical port infrastructure will yield dividends to South Carolina for decades to come.”

These projects, which are slated to open in July 2025, will complement the more than $2 billion SC Ports has already invested in its infrastructure and operations to remain competitive as a top 10 U.S. container port.