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Charleston native

North Carolina wants to challenge Charleston's port

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In the article link below, the Chas Business Journal highlights the NC State Ports Authority moving toward building a new port in Southport on the Cape Fear River in the hopes that the facility will attract larger ships to its ports and challenge Charleston supremacy in the Southeast. Along with the ports in Moorhead City and Wilmington, the NCSPA is working out details to add an additional port with attempting to buy 600 acres on the river. The authority says the proposed facility would be able to handle about two million containers a year, rivaling ports in Charleston and Norfolk.

Can this project actually succeed in rivaling Chas or surpassing it? My initial thought is that it won't happen, primarily because of future plans for expansion already in the works with the new terminal on the old Navy base and an expansion of the north terminal. What do others here think?

North Carolina considers new bid to challenge Port of Charleston

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This is the very reason that SC will never extend I-20 to the coast. But aside from that, I think it will have minimal impact because it is so difficult to get to Wilmington. And the largest city in the state, Charlotte, is much closer to Charleston, time wise, than Wilmington, so I expect that businesses in the CLT area will still continue to use the Charleston port regardless of what goes on in Wilmington.

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I-40 serves as a good link for the port of Wilmington and the interstate does multiplex with 85 through RDU and the Triad. Also eastern NC does have a manufacturing base that does utilize this link. So to say Wilmington is cutoff is a little misleading. Its just missing a major link to the south. Already the port has increased tonnage and containers because of the channel deepening and addition of 2 new cranes. It is about time the port authority got serious. Trade with China is booming and the west coast ports are backed up. NC needs to get in on some of this.

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I agree with Metro's comments a little more, but NcSc74, you do provide some good details into the port in Wilmington. I agree, NC does need to get their hand in on trade as much as possible before it loses the opportunity. However, do you think the port will eventually rival Charleston's with this new terminal?

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I think Charleston better keep its focus on Savannah, which I seem to recall either surpassed Chas, in part or in full, a year or two ago. It's the fastest growing container port on the east coast, and the Jasper Co. project still isn't 100% dead (I believe).

Beyond that, Jacksonville would be more competitive towards Chas than Wilmington ever could be.

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Transportation wise, its a possibility this seaport could really take off if highway projects north and west of Wilmington provide high speed connections to nearby interstates:

To the WEST: I-20 extension would be great between Florence and Wilmington but this will likely never happen. The current route is US 76 which to my knowledge west of Chadbourn(NC), is a two lane highway to Florence. Truck traffic going to Columbia and Atlanta could be hit or miss on traffic volumes going that way. Maybe if its high enough, if anything, could prompt SCDOT to widen US 76 just to a 4 lane arterial.

To the NORTHWEST: US 74 is just about all four lanes and improvements (freeways) will be in the coming years. The only two lane section is between Maxton(NC) and Lumberton(NC). East of Rockingham(NC), US 74 is part of the I-74 project. Theres also I-40 that goes to the Triangle and Triad.

TO THE NORTH: The need is to widen NC 87 from Southport towards US 17 from two to four lanes and ought to be controlled access if possible. Otherwise, the I-140 Wilmington bypass will be done in a couple years, the US 117 four lane connection from I-40 to I-95 is nearly complete (Goldsboro[nc] to Wilson[nc] currently under construction). This will likely be the favored route for trucks going to the northeast.

To the NORTHEAST: US 17 is mostly two lanes in NC but will be eventually all four lanes in the state. Reaching the northeast cities will not be the preferred route for truckers for US 17 but serving eastern NC (along with NC 11 & US 13, the inland primary north-south route west of 17) would be.

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I think Charleston better keep its focus on Savannah, which I seem to recall either surpassed Chas, in part or in full, a year or two ago. It's the fastest growing container port on the east coast, and the Jasper Co. project still isn't 100% dead (I believe).

Beyond that, Jacksonville would be more competitive towards Chas than Wilmington ever could be.

Savannah only surpassed Charleston for one fiscal quarter 2 years ago, but Chas regained its 2nd place ranking on the East Coast soon after and has kept it ever since. However, you're right, Chas needs to focus more on Jax and Savannah ports. There are 3 new projects currently in the works for the Port of Charleston: Veteran's Terminal which is converting some of the old Navy base docks, a brand new terminal also on the base including an access road to be built to I-26, and expansion of DT's Columbus Street terminal when the demolition of the old bridges is complete.

I don't think Savannah is the fastest growing container port...I believe Chas still has that distinction. However, Chas still needs to be very competitive in keeping these other ports at bay (no pun intended).

Jerseyman, I don't think I-20 will ever be extended in that direction. Logistically, it would not make sense for it to go to Wilmington, but it would make sense to go to MB. I would be ever hopeful if I-20 was built to MB because it could divert I-73 through Florence heading to Chas!

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I agree with Metro's comments a little more, but NcSc74, you do provide some good details into the port in Wilmington. I agree, NC does need to get their hand in on trade as much as possible before it loses the opportunity. However, do you think the port will eventually rival Charleston's with this new terminal?

Not really I think it is more of a goal since Chas is a major port. I think that is the ultimate goal. Having a major port does wonders for a region with stagnate commerce. Also Chas has the clientel to weather new competition.

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I think Charleston better keep its focus on Savannah, which I seem to recall either surpassed Chas, in part or in full, a year or two ago. It's the fastest growing container port on the east coast, and the Jasper Co. project still isn't 100% dead (I believe).

Beyond that, Jacksonville would be more competitive towards Chas than Wilmington ever could be.

The area this port is going is a natural deepwater harbor. IMO that is where the state port should have gone in the first place. We probably wouldn't be having this conversation now.

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Jerseyman, I don't think I-20 will ever be extended in that direction. Logistically, it would not make sense for it to go to Wilmington, but it would make sense to go to MB. I would be ever hopeful if I-20 was built to MB because it could divert I-73 through Florence heading to Chas!

Depending which Carolina the person is from in regards to I-20 :thumbsup:

I do agree I-73 really should go to Charleston as it was suppose to in the first place

I-74 goes to Myrtle Beach, no problem.

There are posts of this somewhere so i do not want to try to go off topic

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efficient port operations is the main reason the Port of Charleston is in the position it is in. Other ports on the east coast have various advantages, but the bottom line is Charleston moves packages faster...as long as that continues (and they keep up with the growth) Port of Charleston will remain one the top ports on the Atlantic.

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The authority says the proposed facility would be able to handle about two million containers a year, rivaling ports in Charleston and Norfolk.

Can this project actually succeed in rivaling Chas or surpassing it? My initial thought is that it won't happen, primarily because of future plans for expansion already in the works with the new terminal on the old Navy base and an expansion of the north terminal. What do others here think?

The Navy yard terminal will add about 1.5 million containers a year to the Charleston port volume. Charleston did about 2 million containers in '04 and from what I gather that number was exceeded in '05. So if they had that built yesterday it would rival Charleston but by the time they get that built Charleston will be looking toward their next expansion past the Navy yard terminal.

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I still think the port in Wilmington is going to be limited because there are access problems to that part of the world. To the North Va is building a new container port near Norfolk, so that advantage is eliminated, and of course to the south there is Charleston. So there is a narrow window geographically speaking where it is an advantage to use the Wilmington port.

Unfortunately for Wilmington, as I stated earlier, the bulk of the NC's manufacturing is done in the Piedmont, and it is much easier to get to Charleston than Wilmington from the Southern and Western parts of that.

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Obviously the state and the port authority has a plan to improve connectivity. I would not think they would announce this project and keep the same transpo infrastructure.

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Charleston will have doubled its tonnage capacity before the NC port even opens.

I think that the SCSPA should take advantage of its smaller ports in Georgetown and/or Port Royal. Added Capacity without obstructing the current flow of traffic seems like a good idea to me.

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The Navy yard terminal will add about 1.5 million containers a year to the Charleston port volume. Charleston did about 2 million containers in '04 and from what I gather that number was exceeded in '05. So if they had that built yesterday it would rival Charleston but by the time they get that built Charleston will be looking toward their next expansion past the Navy yard terminal.

This is a great point. SCSPA is already getting the groundwork for the Navy base terminal underway, so by the the time NC completes its project, Chas will be further ahead in terms of tonnage and access. Don't forget, when the demolition of the old Cooper River bridges is complete, the DT Columbus St terminal is to be expanded onto land occupied by the bridges. 2 additional mega-cranes will be added to provide berths for 2 additional large freighters. This will increase container shipments significantly, close to another million per year.

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This is a great point. SCSPA is already getting the groundwork for the Navy base terminal underway, so by the the time NC completes its project, Chas will be further ahead in terms of tonnage and access. Don't forget, when the demolition of the old Cooper River bridges is complete, the DT Columbus St terminal is to be expanded onto land occupied by the bridges. 2 additional mega-cranes will be added to provide berths for 2 additional large freighters. This will increase container shipments significantly, close to another million per year.

I think the whole point is to put this terminal on the major port status. The way to do this is to challenge the big dogs. There is ample room for growth near the sunny point military terminal. In order to be great is to aim high. NC has been lagging for years when it comes to maritime issues. I for one noticed why is it a state with so much industry does not have a major port.

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Historically, Charleston has been the port for both Carolinas, and that is true today. I would suspect that this new port would only Raleigh and places east of there.

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It seems Hampton Roads wants in on the action as well, according to this article from The State.

Here are the rankings for the East Coast based on 20-foot equivalents - the industry measure for container traffic - in 2004.

New York-New Jersey = 4.48 million

Charleston = 1.86 million

Hampton Roads = 1.8 million

"Hampton Roads is undergoing significant expansion. A $450 million container terminal under construction in Portsmouth will increase the port's capacity when it opens in 2007. It is also expanding the container-handling capacity of its Norfolk International Terminal. And, it's getting ready to construct a giant container terminal at Craney Island in Portsmouth - a project with a $1.76 billion price tag."

They are also deepening their channels to 56 feet. New York is deepening theirs to 50.

They seem to think that Hampton Roads will supass New York eventually.

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That's a pretty lofty prediction, especially considering that NYC's deep water port played a significant part in its growth.

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That's a pretty lofty prediction, especially considering that NYC's deep water port played a significant part in its growth.

True, but since NYC's major growth days, the major population of the USA has shifted to the South. NYC is too far away to effectively serve the South.

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Much of the future port growth will not mean any port will 'lose business' to other ports - there will be plenty of business for all Atlantic sea ports. Most businesses are now selecting more than one port site for their cargo - primarily due to 2 things, hurricane activity in the Gulf & the massive backlog at LA's port. It's cheaper now to just ship products from China through the Panama Canal & to the Atlantic ports than to ship it to LA, wait for them to unload it & transport it across the country.

NC's port expansion may be based on that view - & not to challenge Charleston specifically.

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It seems Hampton Roads wants in on the action as well, according to this article from The State.

Here are the rankings for the East Coast based on 20-foot equivalents - the industry measure for container traffic - in 2004.

New York-New Jersey = 4.48 million

Charleston = 1.86 million

Hampton Roads = 1.8 million

Not sure about the other ports, but Charleston's port traffic container handling went up to 2.1 million, according to what I've read in the Chas Business Journal.

However, Spartan is right about Hampton Roads; they are indeed one of the more competitive SE Atlantic ports that Chas needs to watch out for. Norfolk has the infrastructure and room for port expansion, and I have often wondered how Chas beats them in container capacity when Norfolk seems so much bigger.

It seems like the SPA for Chas is looking at steady, consistent growth and port efficiency, which in essence will bring more growth. For NC to bring more business into their ports and not get overlooked altogether, their expansion is sorely needed.

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I still think that the SCSPA should focus on the fact that we have 3 ports available. Georgetown is capable of more. Port Royal is not. Plus they are wanting to develop a port on Jasper County. It seems to me that the more ports we have, the more competetive we can be.

Interesting trivia- I did some research and I found out that GA still uses Bainbridge and Columbus as port cities.

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I still think that the SCSPA should focus on the fact that we have 3 ports available. Georgetown is capable of more. Port Royal is not. Plus they are wanting to develop a port on Jasper County. It seems to me that the more ports we have, the more competetive we can be...

Well, it is true that SC can be more competitive with additional port locations and expansion. However, I think it would be foolish to build a port in Jasper County because all this will do is facilitate Savannah port expansion. Think about it, if more commercial traffic docks along the Savannah River, more carriers will decide to use Savannah along with Jasper County. This could significantly effect Chas which is the major SC port.

If you look close, you can see that each state's port authority is concentrating growth and expansion in current ports which handle the bulk of the port economy. It is really not cost effective to spread out different port terminals because it limits access to important roads and highways in the smaller ports. Expansion of the other ports also spreads out SCPSPA funds for maintenance and improvements of the terminals. The trend seems to be to consolidate the bulk of port operations at the most successful terminal and use the other terminals for excess traffic (say, for instance, if the port is filled to capacity with docked freighters, one or two additionals could dock in Georgetown or Port Royal).

It makes more sense to further expand the Chas port...just as other state authorities are focusing their efforts in their major ports such as Wilmington, Savannah, and Norfolk.

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