By Nicole Johnson
CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The South Carolina State Ports Authority is cruising ahead with plans for a new terminal for cruise passengers in downtown Charleston.
Tuesday board members awarded the contract to a team of design firms. National Firm CH2M Hill and four local companies will be putting together the plans for the new Union Pier cruise passenger terminal.
The conceptual plans for the terminal include renovating an existing building on the ports property and relocating the cruise terminal from its existing spot near the Customs House to a building near the corner of Washington and Society Streets.
Port officials say the benefits of relocating include moving all cargo operations off of Union Pier, reducing cargo-related traffic, eliminating trains and opening up Charleston's waterfront to the public.
"When this terminal is open, cars will get into our facility right here," said S.C. Ports Authority President Jim Newsome. "There will be no traffic on the streets. People will drop their luggage, come around and park and get on the cruise ship. I would argue that unless you see the ship here you would hardly know the ship is here.
The new terminal is expected to have a big economic impact by creating jobs during construction, which is set to start later this month. The project will cost the city an estimated $2.4 million and is expected to be complete in late 2012.