The Jasper Ocean Terminal Joint Project Office (JPO) voted last week to support a project to build a new interchange off Interstate-95. Exit 3 would develop the transportation needs for the terminal. It would also create nearly 28,000 jobs over a 30-year period according to the JPO. The town of Hardeeville applied for a $68 million loan from the State Infrastructure Bank and will add $53 million of their own totalling $121.6 million to be dedicated to the Exit 3 project. The purpose of the project is to attract more traffic to the terminal including supertankers that will be destined for the Panama Canal after its expansion project is completed in 2015. Economic Director of Development for the city of Hardeeville Ted Felder says the Jasper Ocean Terminal is ideal for these large ships. “Once that’s done (expansion of Panama Canal), the Panamax ships, as they’re called which are much larger,” said Felder, “will have to have deep, deep ports to be able to come in and park.
“The Jasper Ocean Terminal is on a very nice, natural deep piece of water. Very little dredging would need to be done to get the port ready for those ships.”
Felder says the city of Hardeeville and the bi-state board are taking this project very seriously and have already started considering alternatives should the loan not be approved. “Well, it depends on when the bank next gets funds from the legislature,” Felder said.
“We aren’t putting all of our eggs in this basket. We are approaching federal officials as well as other state pots of money to try and get the money we need to get the project started. A lot of it is going to be market driven, of course, everything is. We feel good. We feel like, at the end of the day, the momentum is building behind it. The Joint Project Board of Directors and their support of it is going to give us a hand as we make the case.”
The JPO is made up of officials from both South Carolina and Georgia.