As work continues on a 280-acre container terminal in North Charleston's port, those close to the project are predicting a significant boost to the region's economy.
The South Carolina Ports Authority has completed preliminary demolition, site preparation and containment wall construction on the more than $700 million Hugh K. Leatherman development, named after the Republican member of the South Carolina Senate. It will be the only permitted new container terminal on the East and Gulf Coasts.
Richard Garcia, a Charleston-based executive vice president with T. Y. Lin International, an engineering services firm involved in the development of the terminal, did not want to talk about details of the contract, but told Palmetto Business Daily that it was important for Charleston and the region.
"The return in terms of jobs will be significant," Garcia said. "It will help to continue to make South Carolina very relevant in the import/export business."
Garcia pointed out that ships are getting much larger, which has prompted the widening of the Panama Canal.
"Many companies, if they are in the import/export business, this will be a significant point in their decision-making process," he added.
Supporters describe the project as a competitive advantage for the South Carolina Ports Authority, and expect it to increase container traffic and boost current capacity by 50 percent.
Final permit approval was granted in 2007, and the authority has been working on site preparation. This includes fill and surcharge behind a containment wall and upland area of the terminal.
Construction is underway with completion for phase one planned in 2020.
The new terminal's five super post-Panamax cranes will be built in China and will be capable of moving cargo on big ships carrying 13,000 or more cargo boxes, according to a report last year in the Post And Courier. Those five cranes will line the first berths to be built.
According to the ports authority, the cranes will be delivered late next year and the first ships will arrive by June 2020.