SC Ports Authority wants to move cargo with a barge to reduce 526 traffic

Published: Mar. 25, 2019 at 8:00 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The South Carolina Ports Authority is pushing for a change to how cargo containers are transported in an effort to reduce traffic on I-526.

Right now, large trucks transport cargo containers across I-526 to a railroad. The containers are then taken to other cities.

The SCPA is asking to create a new barge system, where large ships would transport cargo.

“To be a responsible neighbor here in the Charleston area as we grow, we wanted to find a way to see if we could move containers in off-hours or utilize what we call the marine highway rather than the interstate,” SCPA Chief Operating Officer Barbara Melvin said.

SCPA officials said the proposed barge would increase safety and would save the state millions of dollars in bridge and road repairs over several years.

About 20 to 25 percent of all cargo containers at the port would be transported by barge to a new port access, which will be complete in January 2021.

“So that’s our target, is about 200,000 truck trips off the roads," Melvin said.

To accommodate the barge system, crews would have to deepen the port in some areas and expand the port by several feet.

There is no cost estimate yet for the project because state legislators and committees still have to approve the idea.

“It is simply something we need to do and should do as responsible port planners to move freight efficiently," Melvin said.

If it moves forward, the barge project would be fully operational by 2022 at the earliest.

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