The South Carolina Department of Commerce, South Carolina Division of Public Railways and city of North Charleston, S.C., yesterday announced they reached an agreement that will enable the state to offer dual rail access at the Port of Charleston through a new intermodal rail yard to be located at a former Charleston naval base. The pact is a first step toward ending all pending litigation among the parties.
Under the agreement, the city and division of public railways will exchange land that divides property at the former naval base so the city controls the property closest to the waterfront that's best suited for residential and recreational development, while the division retains property necessary to build an intermodal rail yard and associated rail lines, as well as other land suited for industrial and economic development. The state plans to build an intermodal container transfer facility that would provide equal access to both CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern Railway.
In addition, the division, state ports authority, South Carolina Department of Transportation and city will equally fund a comprehensive surface transportation study to identify rail and highway traffic impacts related to state port and rail operations and determine mitigations.
The agreement "signals to the global business community that South Carolina will be ready to accommodate the rapid growth in commerce that will move
through the port after the Panama Canal is widened in 2014," state officials said in a prepared statement. "As a key partner in the deal that will facilitate the efficient and cost-effective movement of cargo through the Charleston region and statewide, the city of North Charleston will also benefit from new investment and job creation."
The intermodal facility will help ensure the port is busier, Interstate 26 is less congested and businesses have another viable option to move their goods throughout the state, country and world, state officials said.
"This agreement puts us at the top of the game for competing globally for post-Panamax business. Like water poured on a rock, when the commerce comes, it has to have somewhere to go," said South Carolina Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt.
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