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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Palmetto Railways Navy Base Intermodal Facility

Palmetto Railways, which is a division of the South Carolina Department of Commerce, has proposed to construct a state-of-the-art near-dock Intermodal Container Transfer Facility (ICTF) at the former Charleston Naval Complex to facilitate the transfer of international cargo containers between ships/trucks and rail. The Project would provide equal access to the Class I rail carriers (CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern Railway) that serve the Port of Charleston and various local businesses and industries. The proposed facility would be designed to accommodate existing and projected future intermodal container traffic within the region.

The Project consists of constructing and operating an ICTF on an approximately 135-acre site, and undertaking off-site roadway and rail improvements for a total of 231.28 acres. The intermodal facility would include, but is not limited to, processing and classification railroad tracks, wide-span gantry cranes, container stacking areas, administrative buildings, and vehicle driving lanes. The off-site infrastructure improvements would include constructing: (1) a private drayage road and associated bridges approximately 1-mile long connecting the ICTF to the Hugh K. Leatherman, Sr. Terminal, currently being built; (2) rail improvements to the north and south of the ICTF resulting in 174,410 feet of new track; and (3) several roadway improvements and modifications, including a new overpass.

The Project site is on the Charleston Naval Complex (CNC) in North Charleston, South Carolina, on the former Clemson Site. It lies on the west bank of the Cooper River six miles north of the confluence with the Ashley River. It is centrally located between several terminals operated by the South Carolina Ports Authority, including the North Char­leston Container Terminal, Veterans Terminal, the future Hugh K. Leatherman, Sr. Terminal, Union Pier Terminal, Colum­bus Street Terminal, and the Wando Welch Container Terminal. Intermodal containers that arrive at these marine terminals may be transported to the Navy Base ICTF or other destinations. The CNC is bounded by the Cooper River to the east, the neighborhoods of Chicora and Cherokee to the west, the Park Circle neighborhood to the north, and residential and industrial areas to the south.

Because the Project will require permits under the Clean Water Act and the Rivers and Harbors Act, the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) was the lead agency for the development of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which was prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. § 4321 et seq., as well as with the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) Procedures for Considering Environmental Impacts (64 FR, 28545). The FRA was a cooperating agency for the EIS, both because it is a rail project and because Palmetto is pursuing a Railroad Rehabilitation and Financing (RRIF) loan to fund the Project. The Corps published the Draft EIS on April 29, 2016 and the Final EIS on June 29, 2018.  Because FRA is a cooperating agency, FRA did not sign either the Draft or Final EIS. However, before the Project can be eligible for a RRIF loan, FRA must issue a Record of Decision (ROD). The Corps issued their ROD on September 20, 2018 (Appendix A to the ROD), and FRA signed a ROD on June 4, 2019.

Project Deliverables