Georgia and South Carolina officials are moving ahead with plans to build a new port terminal in Jasper County, a few months after a feud between the two states threatened to derail the project.
The board that oversees the planned Jasper Ocean Terminal voted Monday to spend $1 million on the site over the next year. Both states will jointly operate the terminal when (or if) it is completed, which will be no sooner than 2025.
Right now, Chairman Dave Posek says the board is waiting for a decision on the nearby Savannah Harbor Expansion Project, or SHEP, before taking any major steps. “We basically told ourselves, ‘let’s look at those items that absolutely have to be done going forward that will not be duplicated,’ Posek said. He is a former head of the South Carolina Ports Authority.
The future of the terminal was up in the air only a few months ago after South Carolina leaders accused their Georgia counterparts of trying to derail the plan. The issue arose in January after the Army Corps of Engineers recommended a dredging plan for the nearby Port of Savannah that would have dumped the Savannah River’s dredge spoil at the spot where the Jasper Terminal is supposed to be located.
At the time, federal officials said the move would help the Jasper site, which needs to be higher in elevation. South Carolina officials questioned that. In January, Jasper officials voted to spend only the minimum necessary to keep the site open.
While that issue has not been settled, Posek said $425,000 approved Monday would go towards a study on how to use the clay from the SHEP project to raise the elevation of the construction site at Jasper.
Both states are waiting to see how the Corps of Engineers decides on the Savannah River deepening before moving forward on the Jasper project. Posek says they hope to learn the final word on the Corp’s decision by next year. “It seems like it’s been the longest decision in a long time, I tell you,” he said.
Jasper officials hope to finish their study around the same time as a decision is reached on the Savannah Harbor.
The Jasper Ocean Terminal Joint Project was created in 2007 by an intergovernmental agreement between Georgia and South Carolina. The six-member board is split between the two states, with members appointed by either the governor or the State Ports Authority.