Beaufort lawmaker renews effort for Jasper Port

After years of planning a Jasper Port, some gated, undeveloped land is all Jasper County has to show for it.

In honor of the late Senator Clementa Pinckney, one Beaufort lawmaker is taking up a renewed effort to finish one of his Jasper County projects. The project would build a Jasper Port along the Savannah River. It’s been years in the making, but plans have come to a halt.

After nearly decades of planning a new port along the Savannah River, some gated, undeveloped space is all Jasper County has to show for it.

“Frustration is one expression, outrage is another,” says Jasper County Councilman Tom Johnson. Johnson has been following the project from it’s early planning stages, dating back to the eighties.

The Port’s proposed site is situated downstream from Hutchinson Island, on the Savannah River. It would open the way for container traffic not accommodated at Savannah or Charleston ports. It would mean double the tax base in rural Jasper County, a lifestyle change for families who struggle to make ends meet.

“The lifestyle impact and the sociological impact, people wouldn’t have to get on a bus in the dark and leave home and go to Hilton Head to work, get back home after dark when the kids are already in bed or should be,” Johnson says.

There is a state law, and a contract that requires the ports authorities in Savannah and Charleston to come to work together on the Jasper Port.

“Quite frankly, that hasn’t been carried out,” Senator Tom Davis says. “We’re now in 2015, Senator Pinckney and I have worked, were discussing earlier this year what we were going to do in regard to what we consider to be a statutory and a contractual breech by the South Carolina State Ports Authority in regard to expeditiously pursuing a port in Jasper County.”

Davis looks to Charleston to get the Port plans back in progress.

“When you’ve got a Ports Authority in Charleston that is ignoring what a contract requires them to do, and ignoring what a statute tells them to do, it’s time for Jasper County to stand up and assert its rights and I plan to assist them in that regard,” he says.

“This would be an opportunity and an opportunity to keep our young people here instead of looking elsewhere for opportunities,” Johnson says.

Johnson says an independent study estimates the Jasper Port could create a million jobs from here to as far away as Nashville, Tennessee.


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