Port projects

The State Ports Authority this week appoved more than $5.6 million in capital improvements to two of its termainals in the Charleston area:

A $4.6 million contract to Banks Construction of North Charleston for paving and other improvements to increase storage capacity at North Charleston Terminal.

A $551,628 contract to Proshot Concrete, of Florence, Ala., for wear-and-tear repairs to the wharf at the Columbus Street Terminal in Charleston.

A $514,964 contract to Metro Electric of Charleston to replace the overhead electrical network for refrigerated cargo at the North Charleston Terminal with underground wiring.

The State Ports Authority said new customers and aggressive marketing of its so-called inland port in the Upstate is helping boost revenue and cargo volume.

The maritime agency reported to its board that it handled the equivalent of 129,563 20-foot long containers at its Charleston-area terminals last month, or roughly 7 percent more compared to January 2012.

The agency also reported $88.2 million in revenue since its fiscal years began July 1. That's up 11.6 percent from the corresponding year-ealier period and about 1 percent above projections.

The agency has also pinpointed the growth, in part, to larger ships calling on the Port of Charleston.

The SPA reported that since 2010, the agency has captured nearly half of all container volume growth in the South Atlantic market.

"Container volume in Charleston has grown consistently year over year since fiscal year 2010," said CEO Jim Newsome. "We remain a top 10 port, and through our efforts to deepen the harbor and prepare for big ships to call in greater frequency, we are poised to meet the future growth of the industry and remain a leader in our competitive region."

The SPA wants to deepen Charleston Harbor's shipping lanes to at least 50 feet from 45 feet to handle the larger, heavier vessels that are becoming increasinly commonplace in the industry.

The agency wants the $300 million project to be completed by 2018, which is the same time it plans to open its new $700 million container terminal at the southern end of the old Navy base in North Charleston.

The SPA has been trying to increase its marketshare in the Southeast with the opening of its 100-acre inland port in Greer. Shipping containers at the Upstate terminal are transferred between trucks and Norfolk Southern trains running to and from Charleston.

Reach Tyrone Richardson at 937-5550 or twitter.com/tyrichardsonPC.