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Phase I of Leatherman Terminal on track for March opening

Distribution & Logistics
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The Hugh K. Leatherman Sr. Terminal is on track to open in March, according to the S.C. Ports Authority. (Photo/Walter Lagarenne for the S.C. Ports Authority)

Phase I of S.C. Ports Authority’s Hugh K. Leatherman Terminal is on track to open on March 31, according to the SCPA board.

Having started construction in August 2018, the first of three phases will have been wrapped up in 32 months, with the site work and buildings finished in 18 — which Walter Lagarenne, the SCPA’s director of engineering and permitting, called impressive when also considering the project remained within the originally projected $986 million budget.

Lagarenne credits the achievement to close coordination of all team members, especially the engineering and supervision teams, as well as early purchasing of equipment and coordination with stakeholders.

Six months ago, Lagarenne began meeting and planning with all the different departments within the port about opening the new terminals.

He said repackaging the original project into multiple smaller parts also cut costs by opening up competition among contractors for better pricing.

“It’s pretty amazing that with a project of this size we’ve been able to hang right in there and not have excessive change orders and changes that have caused overages,” Lagarenne said.

Major structures at the wharf include the terminal operations building, which is 90% complete pending finishing work; the vessel operations, which are 65% complete; and the maintenance building, which is at 25% with the foundation poured and structures going up this week.

The service station for the terminal’s refrigeration facility is nearly complete, and it has power; Lagarenne and his team are currently occupying it, along with IT to get a head start on setup.

The plan is to complete all the structures with the exception of the maintenance building, the start of which was delayed and which was redesigned under the construction contract. The original design was budgeted at $14.5 million, but Lagarenne said they separated out the project and had Samet Corp. restructure it with standard materials and a more functional design.

“But they should essentially be done with all the structures, booths and buildings in early January, late December,” Lagarenne said.

Most of the electrical and natural gas work has been completed, and the refrigerated container racks are nearly there. So far 14 of the 15 foundations are finished, but SCPA is installing 10 racks now, seven of which have been erected.

Outbound paving of the site is in progress, with 70% of the overall development contract complete. Cape Romain Contractors is developing both site access roads and plans to finish the port access road towards the end of December, well ahead of the S.C. Department of Transportation finishing its portion.

Work on the temporary chassis yard will begin in early October and is expected to be completed by the end of February, in time for the terminal’s March opening.

“Everything’s in place for the cranes to come with one exception, which is power to the site, but that will be completed in the next couple weeks, well ahead of the ships getting here,” Lagarenne said.

The five ship-to-shore cranes are all en route in the ocean now with cranes 43 and 44 expected to arrive around Oct. 15 and cranes 45, 46 and 47 on Oct. 24.

The Leatherman terminal’s first four rubber-tired gantry cranes also are on their way, with the next 15 leaving in October. The final six cranes will depart in November for a late December arrival.

As for the portion of the Charleston Harbor Deepening Project around the terminal, Great Lakes Dredge and Dock will start the segment in October with a scheduled completion of July 2022.

“They should be able to get that excavation sufficient enough so that by the time we open we’ll be able to turn ships in there without any problem,” Lagarenne said.

Reach Teri Errico Griffis at 843-849-3144.

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