CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) – Thanks to a six-month, $22-million improvement project, the Port of Charleston has expanded to handle BMW's growing export business, along with other rolling stock, large machinery, power-generating equipment and additional non-container cargoes.
The South Carolina State Ports Authority is putting the final touches on a new and improved Columbus Street Terminal. The $21.7-million investment enhances more than 70 acres of storage yard and adds additional rail infrastructure.
A primary driver of the work is BMW's growing export business. BMW manufactures X5, X6 and the all-new X3 vehicles at its Spartanburg, SC plant. In 2010, BMW's exports of the X-series to 130 global markets were valued at more than $4 billion.
To accommodate and better serve the automaker's business and other operations, the SCSPA is relocating roll-on/roll-off cargo operations from Union Pier Terminal to the larger Columbus Street Terminal, where the first BMW shipments arrived by rail last Tuesday.
"BMW is a strategic customer of the Port of Charleston, and this relocation to a more robust and capable terminal is essential to handle port growth," said Jim Newsome, president and CEO of the SCSPA. "BMW's success in South Carolina demonstrates the impact trade and our ports have on jobs and economic health," said Newsome.
Ships serving the BMW business began calling at Columbus Street Terminal over the weekend with the arrival of "K" Line's California Highway. Additional carriers including Wallenius Wilhelmsen, Höegh Line and ARC offer roll-on/roll-off service in Charleston, and numerous other breakbulk carriers routinely call Columbus Street Terminal.
The expansion will also serve increases in other non-container cargoes. "With highly skilled labor, rail infrastructure and lifting capabilities up to 500 tons, Charleston offers solutions for over-dimensional moves, project cargoes and other breakbulk cargoes," said Newsome.
As a result of the move, daily trainloads of vehicles will no longer cross streets south of Columbus Street Terminal. Cargo operations, including other rail, will continue at Union Pier until the new cruise terminal opens and the redevelopment of non-maritime properties begins.