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New Port - Extracts from Army Corp EIS study

Diagram of proposed access roads

Warwick Jones

Changing the proposed new terminal site from Daniel Island to North Charleston was supposed to remove the obstacles to the terminal's construction. It clearly has not worked that way. It seems reasonable to now ask as to whether the new terminal will ever been built?

Arguments for and against the new terminal, and the location of the access roads have merit. And we are loath to take sides. But in an effort to shed a little more light on the issue, we reproduce below part of the summary from the Environmental Impact Study prepared by the Army Corp of Engineers. We have also included two diagrams showing the location of the access roads. Viewers might like to download the whole report, but be warned. It is over 700 pages long and takes up more than 50 MB. Finding information in the report is daunting. The address is Press here

Present facilities moving to capacity
The States Port Authority (SPA) is keen to move ahead with construction. It claims that it needs the new port to handle the growth of container traffic in future. In a few years, the existing terminals will be at capacity and shippers will turn to other East Coast ports. This will represent a lost opportunity for Charleston, economically and in job creation.

But its impact is feared
But the opponents say that the new terminal will lead to massive traffic congestion on I-26 with the new traffic it will bring, particularly considering the growth already under way or planned in the County. The partners in the very large Magnolia development on the Neck feel that the proposed access road will disrupt their plans and residents on the Rosemont and adjoining neighborhoods feel the access road could overwhelm their neighborhoods. The SC Coastal Conservation League has threatened legal action to restrain the port development unless something is done about I-26.

Personally, this writer sees no objection to a terminal being built elsewhere if the construction places a heavy burden on the community. The most likely other site is Savannah. The main objection of course is that it is not in South Carolina and the state will lose out on fees and other revenues. But surely there can be a too-high-a -price to be paid by the community to keep the terminal in Charleston. And we might be getting close to that price. And please, Georgia is simply another state, not another country.

This Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) provides a comprehensive environmental analysis of a proposed marine container terminal and a proposed access roadway in North Charleston, Charleston County, South Carolina. The FEIS evaluates the potential environmental consequences of developing the proposed port facility and related actions, as well as reasonably foreseeable future conditions.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Charleston District has prepared this document to aid in evaluating an application for a Department of the Army (DA) Permit submitted by the South Carolina State Ports Authority (SCSPA) regarding the proposed port facility. In addition, the South Carolina Department of Transportation has submitted an application for a DA permit to construct an access roadway between the proposed port facility and Interstate 26, which is considered a related activity.

This FEIS was prepared in accordance with Corps of Engineers regulations (33 CFR Part 325, Appendix B), 404(b)(1) Guidelines for the Specification of Disposal Sites for Dredged Material (40 CFR Part 230), and Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations (40 CFR 1500- 1508) for implementing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). USACE is the lead agency for this FEIS, with Federal Highway Administration serving as a cooperating agency.

This Executive Summary consists of the following sections:
• A description of the Proposed Project,
• A description of the need for and purpose of the Proposed Project,
• A description of the alternatives considered in the EIS,
• A description of public involvement during the preparation of the EIS,
• A description of changes to the Proposed Project since the publication of the draft EIS,
• A description of potential environmental consequences of the Proposed Project and the
• A description of future steps in the permitting process.

The Proposed Project consists of the development of a marine container terminal and the associated roadway infrastructure at the former Charleston Naval Complex (CNC) in North Charleston, South Carolina.

On January 24, 2003, the SCSPA submitted an application for a Department of the Army permit to construct a marine container terminal and support facilities at the former Charleston Naval Base. The Proposed Project consists of the development of a 287-acre port facility on the Cooper River, as shown on Figure ES-1. Copies of the original permit application and 2 modifications to the Proposed Project and permit drawings that the SCSPA submitted are included in Appendix C of the FEIS. The conceptual layout of the proposed port facility is shown on Figure ES-2. The port facility consists of the following major components:

Wharf. The SCSPA proposes to develop 11.5 acres of wharf structure on the west side of the Cooper River, with a berth area 49 feet deep and 150 feet wide. This wharf would be developed with an estimated six container cranes with a minimum outreach of 200 feet.

Berth and Access Channel. The SCSPA proposes to develop a 65.8-acre berth and access channel. This area extends approximately 850 feet from the edge of the proposed wharf to the edge of the existing Federal navigation channel. The berth and access channel will be excavated to a total depth of -49 feet at mean low water (MLW), which is equal to the depth of the adjacent federal navigation channel.

Container Yard and Support Facilities. The SCSPA proposes to develop 225 acres of lighted, paved area for container processing and storage upland of the wharf. In addition, the SCSPA proposes to build 40 acres of paved area and buildings for support gate structures and other operations and facilities.

Improvements to Tidewater Road. The SCSPA proposes to make improvements to Tidewater Road to provide access to Cooper River Marina, which is owned and operated by Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission. This new two-lane paved roadway will also provide access to an employee parking area for the proposed port facility.

Stormwater Management Facilities. The SCSPA plans to develop approximately 25 acres of stormwater management facilities at the Proposed Project. The runoff would be collected from the support area, container yard, wharf, and portions of Tidewater Road and routed to a stormwater treatment pond that will be constructed along the south side of the terminal.

The South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) submitted a permit application on August 11, 2005 to construct an access roadway as part of the Proposed Project. The permit application from SCDOT was subsequently amended on July 14, 2006. Copies of the permit application and modifications to the Proposed Project and permit drawings that were submitted by SCDOT are provided in Appendix D. The location of the proposed access roadway is shown on Figure ES-3. The access roadway consists of the following major components:Port Access Road copy.jpg

Port Access Road. The SCDOT proposes to construct a four-lane access roadway from the entrance of the proposed port facility to Interstate 26. The majority of the proposed roadway will be elevated on structure to minimize the potential impact to Shipyard Creek and existing roadway and railway infrastructure (Spruill Avenue, Meeting Street Road, CSX Cooper Yard, etc).

Meeting Street Interchange (Exit 217). The SCDOT proposes to rebuild the existing interchange in order to construct collector/distributor roads. These improvements consist of two additional lanes of traffic that are separated from the interstate by a concrete barrier, 3 which will help vehicles from the proposed port access road and the existing interchange to safely and efficiently enter and exit the interstate.

Local Access Roadway. The SCDOT proposes to construct a four-lane roadway at Stromboli Avenue that provides eastbound and westbound access to Interstate 26 via the port access road. This roadway also establishes a new connection to Bainbridge Avenue that provides Veterans Terminal and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center more direct access to Interstate 26 via the port access road.

Stromboli Avenue Improvements. The SCDOT proposes to reopen Stromboli Avenue to through traffic and to construct improvements to the existing intersection with Carner Avenue and Meeting Street.

Bridge to Tidewater Road. A second bridge would be constructed across Shipyard Creek from the local access roadway to Tidewater Road. This bridge will provide access to the Cooper River Marina and the employee entrance to the proposed port facility.

The other access roads considered by the Corps are shown in the attached file.
Download file

Your Comments:

The simplest and sanest way to solve the tremendous problem of truck traffic is to not have it. How? See Long Beach, CA. No way to widen roads safely so the railroad was used to transport containers to an area away from the coast where they then are loaded onto trucks. What is that I see going along Meeting Street Road? Is that, could that be a railroad track already there? Why couldn't tracks be improved and the cargo transhipped on them to a site say, close to Orangeburg, oh, and that's close to I-95. We'd get the trucks off the roads, be safer, not have to re-invent still another wheel. Probably wouldn't work because it's more profit to constantly re-invent more wheels.

Posted by: Carol Jacobsen at February 7, 2007 06:10 PM

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