Port sees growth in rail drayage, cold storage segments for fiscal year 2014

By Liz Segrist
lsegrist@scbiznews.com
Published Aug. 21, 2014

The S.C. State Ports Authority saw a 136% increase in its rail drayage program and a 17% increase in its refrigerated cargo segment during fiscal year 2014 compared with 2013, the ports authority reported Wednesday during its monthly meeting.

During the year, more shipping lines participated in the Port of Charleston’s rail drayage program. Additionally, the region’s cold storage capacity is on the rise, with three cold storage companies announcing plans locate or expand in the market this year.

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Looking ahead for fiscal 2015, which began July 1, the ports authority continues to focus on deepening the Charleston Harbor to at least 50 feet; strengthening the Wando Welch Terminal to accommodate larger ships; and increasing rates to support the ports authority’s investments, President and CEO Jim Newsome said.

The ports authority reported year-end operating earnings of $14.3 million, 20.7% more than the authority budgeted for 2014. The ports authority posted operating revenues of $164.1 million for the year, an increase of nearly 17% over the previous fiscal year. Fiscal 2014 expenses totaled $149.9 million.

“The strong 2014 fiscal year revenues reported today reflect that the SCPA remains focused on the growth necessary for these important projects,” Board Chairman Bill Stern said in a statement.

Newsome said the last quarter of the 2014 fiscal year was the strongest the ports authority has seen in seven years.

“With an 8% container volume increase and operating cash flow well above plan, we are well-positioned to continue moving forward with key strategic projects and continued above-market growth,” Newsome said in a statement.

July statistics

The board also reported statistics for July during the meeting. The Charleston port handled around 153,000 20-foot equivalent units for the month, which begins fiscal 2015. This is a 13% increase from the same period last year.

Pier container volumes for July were up 14% at 87,000 containers compared with the same time last year.

The ports authority’s operating revenue was $15 million as of July 31, up 19.4% from the same period last year. Total expenses were about $13 million for July, up 7.8% from the year prior, and operating earnings were up 158% at $2.51 million.

Break-bulk tonnage was up 8%, at around 55,000 as of July 31, the board reported. About 16,000 passengers came to port in July and 157 ships docked.

Reach staff writer Liz Segrist at 843-849-3119 or @lizsegrist on Twitter.

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