SCPA: New gate system improving; Officials examining Friday, weekend hours

VIDEO: SCDOT, police to help with I-526 traffic near Wando Welch Terminal

MOUNT PLEASANT, SC (WCSC) - The Wando Port's new gate system is improving, but a software glitch caused another backup at lunchtime Thursday, officials say.

The port handled 3,901 gate transactions Wednesday, an amount South Carolina Ports Authority President and CEO Jim Newsome said is "pretty close" to the amount normally expected in the terminal. Those transactions were completed between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m., three hours longer than normal.

In a statement issued Thursday night, Newsome said the software supplier implemented a program enhancement to address a concern port officials had.

"We were moving along at a similar pace today until 1 p.m., when the system had to be reset due to a technology issue," Newsome said in the statement. "This issue was related to the software installed last night. The outage lasted slightly more than one hour. In one hour at this time of the day, we should handle in excess of 400 trucks and there is not enough queuing space so the truck traffic quickly backs up. We have received great cooperation from the Mt. Pleasant Police Department during this time and we respect the decision of the town of Mt. Pleasant to meter traffic into the terminal until they can assure we are back at regular operations. Trucks are now returning on a regular basis to the terminal and being processed in the system."

The port was expected to remain open until 9 p.m. Thursday.

"One issue is that truckers have hours of service limitations and in many cases they normally work from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and are 'timed out' after that," he said. "We are coordinating with the truckers who have company trucks to see if we can manage around the hours of service, especially with regard to the container rail moves."

Newsome said the port is planning to operate from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday but will review that. The port will be open from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and he said they would need to make a call about Sunday hours.

"Hours of service restrictions also come into play there as truckers have a 34-hour restart every week which they normally can cover by not working Sunday," he said.

Thursday's backup was the fourth consecutive day of traffic backups, prompting complaints from motorists and truckers.

Mount Pleasant Police began diverting commercial traffic from the Long Point Road exit off I-526 at approximately 2 p.m. Thursday to allow local traffic through. Late Thursday afternoon, police began allowing commercial trucks to the port 10 trucks at a time.

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