In port deepening debate, funding once again halted for a Jasper Port (updated with video)

Image by Flickr user Dr. Jaus

Update January 4: In the video above, Jim Newsome, CEO of the S.C. State Ports Authority, and Andrew Fulghum, county administrator for Jasper County, discuss plans to develop a container terminal on the South Carolina side of the Savannah River in Jasper County.

First reporting: Remember how in August folks were relieved to hear that funding was once again reinstated for studying the Jasper Port? Well, that period of calm is over.

Last week the South Carolina State Ports Authority voted to defund South Carolina's efforts behind the joint-state project citing Georgia as an unwilling partner. Accordingly, the South Carolina group issued a series of demands that it wants out of Georgia to ensure that plans for a Jasper Port would be able to move forward.  

Not to be overlooked is that the demands (that include adjusting a possible dredging pattern and dredge spoil area) would almost certainly delay the proposed Savannah River dredging to a needed 50 feet.

And that's a delay that South Carolina has been eager to see happen as plans to deepen the Charleston ports have been running well behind Savannah's timetable — a port that was once ranked well below Charleston and now exceeds Charleston's shipping volume.

S.C. Senator Tom Davis issued a release faulting the Georgia side, noting "the Jasper port development agreement between the South Carolina State Ports Authority and the Georgia Ports Authority obligates the parties to 'initiate and diligently prosecute the release and removal or relocation of current Corps Easements from the Jasper Terminal Study Site.'"

But action has been lacking to pursue the port since the mid-2000s when private dollars were ready to fund the port and the public-private State Ports Authority moved to successfully block it.

We'll be sure to keep you posted, but for now it seems leaders are more willing to use the port in a game of political chicken than actual economic growth. 

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