A North Charleston rail yard that will let the Charleston Harbor moving freight containers to and from trains while reducing truck traffic on local roads goes beyond the planning stages with the State Port Authority spending nearly $47 million on heavy-lift cranes for the site adjacent to the Leatherman Terminal.
The board of the SPA voted on September 20 for the purchase of six gantry cranes on rails from the Austrian company Kuenz cranes. This is the first major equipment purchase for the $400 million rail yard at Old Town Navy base. The contract includes the design, manufacture, transport, assembly and final commissioning of the cranes, with delivery scheduled for 2025.
The council also agreed to spend nearly $2.9 million on road improvements near the future rail hub and nearly $2 million on a wetland restoration project in the Kings Grant neighborhood near Dorchester Road, which is done as compensation for the destruction of wetlands at the site of the train.
The SPA rail project is officially known as the Naval Base Intermodal Facility. This is part of the $550 million in port improvements that SC Legislature is the funding. The money will also be used to pay for a barge installation at Wando Welch Terminal in Mount Pleasant, which will transport the containers by water to the Leatherman terminal and, ultimately, to the marshalling yard.
“These three projects really kick off Naval Base Intermodal Facility and a barge project that the State of South Carolina has confidently invested in for us,” Barbara Melvinpresident and chief executive officer of the SPA, told the members of the board of directors.
Melvin said a rail yard close to the wharf is needed for the Port of Charleston to compete with the Savanna Harbor and other sites for freight. Barges and rail facilities will also reduce the number of trucks transporting containers from Wando Welch to the South Norfolk and CSX Corp. railroad yards in North Charleston. These railroads carry goods from the Port of Charleston to the inland ports of Greer and Dillon.
About a quarter of all goods to and from the Port of Charleston are transported by rail.
“It erases our last major competitive disadvantage as a major East Coast port without having rail on or near the dock,” Melvin said. “We have a target date for opening of July 1, 2025, so this project will move quickly.”
The Nexans plant in the Bushy Park area of Goose Creek was awarded a second contract for the Revolution wind farm developed off the US coast by a Danish power company Orsted and based in Connecticut EversourceNew England’s largest electricity provider.
Nexans will produce submarine cables at its Charleston International Manufacturing Center plant to connect the wind farm, located about 15 miles south of the Rhode Island coast and 32 miles east of the Connecticut coast, to an onshore power grid. Paris-based Nexans had previously won a contract to install the wind farm’s export cable link.
Financial terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Nexans recently completed an $80 million expansion to its Berkeley County site to manufacture high voltage submarine cables – the only such plant in the United States. The expansion, which nearly doubled the site to 475,000 square feet, included a new on-site shipping terminal along the Cooper River where mile-long power cords can be loaded onto the Nexans Dawn — a tailor-made cable installation vessel.
“Establishing our footprint in the United States and strengthening our commitment to the U.S. offshore wind industry is core to our business operations,” Ragnhild KattelandNexans executive vice president for subsea and land systems, said in a written statement.
“We have made several investments to provide submarine transmission cables that are manufactured and installed in America, and the partnership with Orsted and Eversource is the first step in strengthening supply chains with strong local partners,” said Kateland. “We are committed to pushing the boundaries of what is possible because innovation is critical to meeting the needs of a territory as vast as the United States.”
The 704 megawatt wind farm is expected to produce enough energy to power more than 350,000 homes. The project will replace nearly one million metric tons of carbon pollution, the equivalent of taking more than 200,000 cars off the road each year. Construction is expected to start in 2023 and the wind farm is expected to be fully operational in 2025.
In addition to supplying power cables for US wind farms, Nexans will export cables for use abroad.
The CS Commerce Department received a federal grant to help businesses looking to ship their products overseas through the Charleston port system.
The $250,000 grant from the Small Business Administration will help finance export programs and servicesincluding assisting new and experienced exporters with on-site advice, developing market entry strategies, administering export training and connecting companies with partners and appropriate resources.
This is the 10th consecutive year that Commerce has awarded a State Trading Expansion Program to agree.
“Export services are key to helping companies expand their business and reach new markets,” the agency’s head said. Harry Lightsey said in a written statement. He said the grant “will allow us to support South Carolina businesses looking to expand their reach around the world.”
More than 83 percent of the state’s enterprises that export products are small and medium enterprises, according to Gregg Whitedistrict director of the SBA office in South Carolina.
This year’s grant will help between 35 and 40 companies to increase their exports and participate in international trade exhibitions.