(CN) – A federal judge in South Carolina has denied a request to halt construction of a new cargo container terminal on the site of the former Charleston Navy Base.
The South Carolina Coastal Conservation League had been trying to block the $1.2 billion project – effectively stopping federally permitted aspects of the $700 million project in their tracks – until further studies could be performed on the project’s impact on the surrounding environment and traffic.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a federal permit for the new 300-acre terminal in April 2007 and gave the green light for the Department of Transportation to build a four-lane access road linking the terminal to a nearby interstate.
The league has since filed suit, claiming the Corps violated the National Environmental Policy Act by conducting a “piecemeal” review of the project and failing to consider a wide range of alternatives.
The league said the intertwined projects will add about 10,000 vehicles a day to Interstate-26 near Charleston, including about 7,000 truck trips.
In denying the request for an injunction, U.S. District Court Judge C. Weston Houck said he considered the status of the project and the length of time the league waited to file its request.
But he added that he was “not foreclosing that the plaintiff could raise the issue again.”
He granted the league’s motion to add the Federal Highway Administration as a defendant, based on claims that the agency ignored rail connections as a means of reducing traffic in the region.
Since the federal permit was issued, several private entities have proposed linking the terminal to an intermodal rail facility that would provide access to both CSX Transportation and the Norfolk Southern railroad.
The federal permit called for rail-bound containers to be picked up at the new terminal by truck and driven to loading facilities maintained by both railroads a few miles away.
Work on the three-berth-deep water cargo terminal began in May 2007. The first phase of the facility is expected to open in 2017.