FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Charleston, SC - Alternatives to serve the Port of Charleston's expansion needs were evaluated at a Ports Authority Board meeting today, and updated forecasts show that a new terminal is required within six to eight years.
The initial proposal to meet shipping demand by consumers and industry was the Global Gateway Terminal on Daniel Island in Charleston harbor. During a very open process, vocal opposition to the initial proposal by local neighborhoods and environmental activists focused primarily on quality of life issues, such as traffic, lights and noise, and the ultimate size of port development.
Acknowledging the local opposition, while also recognizing the dire need to move forward on port expansion, the Ports Authority Board stepped away from the initial proposal and requested an analysis of three options.
"We have been listening to the public and we have heard their concerns," said Board chairman Eddie Buck of Charleston. "This is reflected in the alternatives we reviewed today."
All three alternatives are less than half the size of the initial proposal. The sites to be considered are a portion of the Ports Authority's property on the Cooper River side of Daniel Island, a site in Jasper County on the Savannah River, and a portion of the former Charleston Naval Base. Today the Ports Authority Board heard a detailed report of the technical, engineering, infrastructure and environmental issues relating to each site, along with timing and cost considerations.
"Every site has its pluses and minuses," said Chairman Buck, "it's just a matter of determining a sound business alternative that best serves the port's needs, while minimizing impacts on the community. It is this solution that best serves South Carolina."
An updated analysis of world trade shows that new port capacity could be required as soon as 2006. Although the Ports Authority has surpassed growth expectations every year since the last time its forecasts were updated, vastly increased productivity and the updated forecast allows the six to eight year window to remain constant.
The forecast rate of growth shows increased competition from developing economies, such as Southeast Asia and Latin America, a comparatively stronger U.S. dollar and a continuing decline in the manufacturing sector's share of the overall U.S. economy.
"To satisfy the demand projected in this forecast, preparations must begin immediately for new terminal development. It's understood that we must move forward with plans to expand our state's primary port in Charleston. It is no longer a question of ‘if' or even ‘when,' but ‘where?'" said Buck.