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Port’s FY18 plans includes its largest capital spending plan ever

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The port plans to spend $262 million in fiscal year 2018, including ongoing improvements to the Wando Welch Terminal. (Photo/Kim McManus)

The S.C. State Ports Authority board approved its fiscal year 2018 financial plan last week that includes a $262.3 million capital project spending plan — the largest in the port’s history.

These planned capital expenses include $86.3 million for improvements to the Wando Welch Terminal in Mount Pleasant, $32.2 million on construction of an inland port in Dillon County and $23.3 million for a new ports authority headquarters in Mount Pleasant. Some funds are also being set aside for the harbor deepening project, according to board documents.

The port also plans to invest $54.0 million into site development, construction and equipment for Phase I of the ongoing buildout of the Hugh K. Leatherman Terminal, a new container terminal slated to open in North Charleston in 2020.

About $16.6 million will go toward economic development, such as setting up the Dillon County inland port with CSX and building an interchange on Interstate 26 for Volvo Cars’ new campus in Berkeley County. The board approved that road project, which is budgeted at $12.6 million in fiscal 2018, in March.

Overall spending for the various infrastructure projects, marine terminals and inland ports, as well as for the economic development initiatives, is budgeted at $279 million, port documents show.

“SCPA is handling larger volumes than ever before, and our plans for the new fiscal year enable our existing facilities to handle big ships,” Port CEO Jim Newsome said in a news release. “This is the largest capital expenditure plan in our history, encompassing a number of projects that collectively will enhance the service of our port.”

The port projects 6% growth in pier containers for the fiscal 2018 plan, reaching an estimated 1.3 million boxes, compared with the 1.2 million boxes expected in fiscal 2017, which ends Friday. From July to May, the port handled 1.1 million boxes.

The maritime agency expects $251.1 million in operating revenues, up nearly 10% over the project 2017 total of $229.4 million; and $44.1 million in operating earnings, up 1.5% compared with the 2017 projection.

“This fiscal year will be an extremely significant period for the port, marking the beginning of harbor deepening construction, completion of the Wando Terminal wharf project, and continued construction of the Leatherman Terminal,” board chairwoman Pamela Lackey said.

Reach Liz Segrist at 843-849-3119.

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