- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 20, 2016

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - Building on the success of its first inland port in Greer, the South Carolina Ports Authority announced Wednesday it hopes to build a second one off Interstate 95 in the northeastern corner of the state.

The agency is looking at an industrial park in Dillon County between Dillon and Latta to develop another inland facility where shipping containers can be transferred between trucks and trains serving the Port of Charleston about 140 miles to the south.

It’s more efficient to bring containers to ports by rail and helps reduce highway congestion with fewer truck trips.

The inland port in Greer, which opened in 2013, is off Interstate 85 and is served by Norfolk Southern. The Dillon County site is off the mainline of CSX, the other major railroad carrier serving the ports.

Harbor Freight Tools already has a distribution center at the industrial park in Dillon although chairman and CEO Jim Newsome told reporters this week there is no agreement as of yet the company would use the terminal.

But he said “there is good container flow there. There are some import clients in North Carolina and export clients in North Carolina very close to the border that we would like to tap into.”

The Greer port is on target to handle 100,000 shipping containers this year, something the authority originally thought would take five years to achieve.

Newsome doesn’t anticipate the Dillon County port will be as busy but that “I think this one, in my mind, could get to 50,000 in a reasonable time.”

He said the cost, design and construction are being studied by a consultant, and the authority is discussing the proposal with CSX.

“We could probably have an agreement in place with CSX by the end of the year and you could have an inland port up and running in the beginning of 2018,” he said.

The Greer port cost about $50 million while the one in Dillon County would not be as large and probably cost around $30 million, Newsome said.

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