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Rail News: Intermodal

Ports: New volume marks in South Carolina and Virginia, new rail facility in Washington and new director in Minnesota

The South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) in August handled 144,649 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs), up 5.6 percent year over year and its highest monthly container volume since October 2008.

In July and August of fiscal-year 2014, the Port of Charleston handled 280,808 TEUs versus 268,806 TEUs during the same FY2013 period. The port's exports in that period climbed 6.7 percent to 146,497 TEUs.

"Our cargo volumes should continue to be influenced by big ship deployments and increased cooperation by ocean carriers in mega-alliances," said SCPA President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Newsome in a press release.

Meanwhile, the Port of Virginia in August handled 198,329 TEUs, up more than 5 percent year over year and the fourth-best TEU total for a month in the Norfolk port's history.

The only higher totals were 205,137 TEUs registered in July 2013, 199,448 TEUs logged in October 2007 and 198,720 TEUs recorded in November 2012.

Imports in August rose 1.8 percent to 97,747 TEUs and exports climbed 8.8 percent to 100,582 TEUs. In addition, the port set a rail volume record in August, handling more than 40,000 containers in a given month for the first time.

"We expect continued heavy rail volume for the foreseeable future and are making several operational changes to accommodate the growth," said Rodney Oliver, interim executive director of the Virginia Port Authority, in a press release.

In Washington, the Port of Grays Harbor and Pasha Automotive Services on Friday marked the completion of a $15 million rail facility designed to support the continued growth of automotive processing and roll-on/roll-off business at the port.

The project, which began in December 2012, is complemented by Puget Sound & Pacific Railroad’s new $3.5 million passing track, port officials said in a press release. The facility features more than 60 acres of paved areas, new security systems and a custom carwash system, and a new body/mechanical center. An additional 10-acre paving/lighting project is under way.

New automotive business at the port includes an import client using short-sea service from Mexico, while reconditioning work for rental cars destined for auction also is booming, Pasha Automotive Services officials said.

"We now have a perfect entrée for Mexico short sea and landbridge imports, as well as a unique platform to expedite [roll-on/roll-off] exports and imports through the Pacific Northwest," said John Pasha, Pasha Automotive Services' senior vice president.

In Minnesota, the Duluth Seaway Port Authority announced it named Vanta Coda II executive director, effective Oct. 1. He succeeds Adolph Ojard, who will retire on Sept. 30 after serving as the authority's top executive for more than a decade.

Only the authority's seventh director in nearly 60 years, Coda has more than 20 years of experience in multi-modal transportation and logistics. He most recently was director of fuel transportation for Dynegy Inc. in Houston.

Coda began his career in 1993 with the Illinois Central Railroad, where he eventually became director of marketing and sales following the CN merger. He later joined the Westlake Group of Cos. to manage all logistics for its vinyls subsidiary, followed by a stint at American Commercial Lines as director of regional sales.

The Port of Duluth-Superior is served by BNSF Railway Co., CN, Canadian Pacific and Union Pacific Railroad.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 9/23/2013