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Settlement clears way for SC inland port project

Bruce Smith, Associated Press

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) -- South Carolina's new inland port in Greer should be moving cargo by late summer now that a potential snag in the plans has been resolved.

The inland port, where containers will be loaded onto and off of trains traveling between the Port of Charleston and the complex, needed property leased by a company that operates a refrigerated warehouse at the site owned by the State Ports Authority.

But the company initially refused to give up the site, prompting the authority board to vote to use the power of eminent domain to terminate the lease, condemn the company's building and then demolish it.

But in a settlement reached last week, the State Ports Authority and Nordic Cold Storage reached a settlement through which the authority will buy the rest of Nordic's 11-year lease for about $2 million, clearing the way to finish the $25 million inland port work. The facility is expected to open in September.

Ports officials think the inland port could eliminate 50,000 truck trips a year on busy Interstate 26 between Charleston and the Greenville-Spartanburg area.

They say it is a key part of a 10-year, $1.3 billion plan to improve the authority's facilities and is just as important as getting the 45-foot shipping channel into Charleston deepened to 50 feet to handle larger container ships.

The Greer location is near busy Interstate 85, one of the key interstates linking South Carolina and other states in the region.

Gov. Nikki Haley, Republican U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham and other state and local officials helped break ground for the inland port project back in March — a project that has been discussed for three decades.

At the time, Greer officials called the center the biggest economic development in the area since the BMW manufacturing plant came to the region 20 years ago.