Under the intergovernmental agreement to be signed by both states’ port authorities and Georgia Department of Transportation, a new group, the Jasper Ocean Terminal Joint Project Office (JPO), will be formed to move the project forward.
The JPO will be overseen by a six-member board, four from the states’ existing ports authorities. Each governor appoints one member, while the chairman of both states’ ports authorities will appoint two members from their respective boards. The chief executive of each state’s port authority will serve as ex-officio members of the group.
“This agreement creates the framework for how South Carolina and Georgia will work together in the future as we explore all the details and options for a proposed new port terminal in Jasper,” said Bill H. Stern, chairman of the South Carolina State Ports Authority (SCSPA) and a member of the Task Force. “The agreement is a prudent, fail-safe solution for all parties on both sides of the river to begin the planning process.”
Creation of the JPO marks the beginning of work on the project, and will eventually result in a detailed proposal for consideration by both states. The bi-state compact which must be approved by each state’s General Assembly and the US Congress, will cover the financing and operation of the project, as well as other issues involving the creation of the proposed container handling facility on the South Carolina side of the Savannah River.
The agreement initiates a number of specific steps. First, ownership of the property will be split equally between the two states, ending the expensive and time-consuming condemnation process. Preliminary meetings between the Task Force and environmental permitting identified a number of key challenges which officials concluded should be addressed by the two states working together.
Perhaps most importantly, the group will work to remove the federal easement on the property, which currently calls for the indefinite use of the site for dredged material disposal.