Court Declines to Enjoin Port for Now, but Adds Federal Defend
11.17.2009 – CHARLESTON, S.C.—A federal judge declined to enjoin construction
of a container shipping terminal in North Charleston for now, but agreed to expand a
lawsuit challenging approvals of the terminal to include the Federal Highway
Administration (“FHWA”) as a defendant. The Coastal Conservation League, which
brought the lawsuit in late 2007, sought an order stopping construction to preserve
options for adding rail connections at the terminal. While declining to enjoin
construction at this point and allowing the League to refile its request, the Court
granted the League’s motion to add claims against FHWA for having ignored rail
connections as a means of lessening traffic on Interstate 26.
An attorney for the Conservation League stated he was encouraged by the attention
to rail and said he hoped that a rail solution could be worked out even without a stay.
“Our goal is to ensure that Charleston gets a world-class shipping terminal with
state-of-the art rail connections that will take trucks off of I-26,” said Blan Holman, an
attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center. “We remain confident we will
achieve that result.”
The S.C. State Ports Authority plans to open the new Charleston terminal in 2017,
while the port’s existing terminals will not reach maximum capacity until 2023 or
later. Charleston’s volume is down by about 35 percent from 2005, and dropped 19
percent in the most recent fiscal year alone.
Other ports are using new rail connections to capture a greater slice of intermodal
trade. Savannah has constructed intermodal sites for both CSX and Norfolk
Southern to provide direct rail access to Atlanta. Jacksonville and
Norfolk/Portsmouth invested in new rail infrastructure to open up new markets while
decreasing pollution and traffic impacts from trucks.
“There is no reason to rush and build a rail-less terminal that will sit empty for a
decade,” said Dana Beach,