The Port of Charleston, ranked the 6th largest port in the United States by cargo value, is currently experiencing heavy traffic surrounding its terminals, due to a temporary closure of the Wando Bridge.

The bridge is a major traffic link connecting Daniel Island to Mt. Pleasant, and a continuation of the major Mark Clark Expressway which connects to the greater Charleston area.

The Port of Charleston consists of four public terminals:

  • Wando Welch Terminal (WWT) – a major import/export hub for containerized cargo.
  • North Charleston Terminal (NCT) – for container cargo.
  • Columbus Street Terminal – for project cargo, breakbulk, and RORO cargo.
  • Veterans Terminal – for project cargo, breakbulk, and RORO cargo.

Each of these terminals is directly affected by the bridge closure as the two major terminals for containerized cargo, North Charleston and Wando Welch, feed traffic onto this bridge before being moved to its final destination. While the bridge is closed, traffic is primarily being re-routed onto the Ravenel Bridge (aka Cooper River Bridge, Highway 17 South), which already hosts regular traffic from the two downtown terminals. With all of the westbound traffic being siphoned into one direction, the city and its terminals are facing dire congestion.

To cope with the heavy traffic surrounding the terminals, both WWT and NCT have extended their gate hours, with daily updates scheduled to match traffic fluctuations.

Regular gate hours have been extended as follows:

  • Monday through Friday, 03:00 – 17:00 (last truck in the gate by 17:00 & reefer hours 05:00 – 16:30.)
  • Saturday, 06:00 – 17:00 (last truck in the gate by 16:30 & normal reefer hours at WWT 08:00 – 12:00.)

The container terminals will be open on Memorial Day as follows:

  • Truck gates at Charleston’s container terminals will be OPEN on Monday, May 28th, 2018 from 06:00 – 17:00.
  • Dual Missions (Empties, Dry Loads, and Chassis) must be interchanged by 16:30.
  • If ocean carriers are providing Reefer Service, the reefers must be interchanged by 15:00. Please confirm with your ocean carrier that they are providing Reefer Service.

These extended gate hours will greatly assist in preventing further delays for shippers and importers, but cannot offset the issue of trucker hours. Since the recent implementation of the ELD mandate, many truckers have lost valuable driving hours due to shortened, or more closely monitored, driving time windows. Heavy traffic will undoubtedly cause huge delays for truckers already running within a narrow time-frame. This may mean more containers will be left sitting at the terminal, or in container yards, incurring costly per diem, detention, and demurrage, pending truckers with the appropriate availability to wait in heavy congestion on roads.

The Wando Bridge, which is undergoing inspections and repairs due to a broken cable in the westbound lane, is expected to be closed until June 11th.

Until that time, traffic will continue to be re-routed from Highway 17N to Highway 41, then to Clements Ferry Road back to I-526, or from 17S across the Ravenel Bridge to I-26 westbound. The South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) will post daily updates regarding extended gate hours on their website.

For additional updates on this complex situation, please contact your MTS representative or follow our website for more details.