Expansion Plan Announced for Port of New Orleans
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U.S. port capacity is going to get significantly bigger in Louisiana.
Gov. John Bel Edwards, the Port of New Orleans and two global maritime companies on Dec. 13 announced the formation of a public-private partnership to build a new $1.8 billion container facility on the lower Mississippi River.
Officials said the Louisiana International Terminal in St. Bernard Parish will serve vessels of all sizes, dramatically increasing Louisiana’s import and export capacity and creating more than 17,000 jobs by 2050, Port NOLA estimates.
“This public-private partnership with the Port of New Orleans, TiL [Terminal Investment Ltd.] and Ports America has the potential to become one of the most impactful economic development projects in our state’s history,” Edwards said. “It leverages the economic power of our greatest natural resource — the Mississippi River — and enhances Louisiana’s ability to attract new investment from companies competing in the global marketplace. Access to global markets represents expanding opportunities for both urban and rural communities.
“The powerful impact of this world-class logistics asset will benefit not only residents and businesses in south Louisiana, it will benefit advanced manufacturing, agribusiness and energy workers all across the state.”
One of North America’s largest maritime terminal operators, New Jersey-based Ports America, and Geneva-based Mediterranean Shipping Co., through its terminal development and investment arm Terminal Investment Ltd., said they have committed $800 million toward the project. In addition to the partners’ investment, construction will be supported by a substantial commitment from Port NOLA, as well as state and federal funding sources. The joint venture also will operate the terminal.
“Ports America and Terminal Investment Ltd. are global industry leaders, and we value their partnership in the Louisiana International Terminal,” Port NOLA President Brandy Christian said. “This investment, in addition to the billions of dollars the joint venture will contribute over the life of the lease, demonstrates their confidence in our gateway’s ability to serve vessels of all sizes while creating jobs and opportunity for Louisiana.”
Once the project is fully built out, LIT will be able to handle 2 million 20-foot-equivalent units annually, taking advantage of the 50-foot lower Mississippi River ship channel and avoiding height restrictions from Mississippi River bridges farther up the river. Officials said the terminal also will strengthen Louisiana’s ability to attract distribution centers, logistics services and value-added services through Port NOLA’s multimodal connectivity.
“Ports America is looking forward to partnering with the Port of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana in the development of sustainable infrastructure that meets the long-term needs of the global container logistics industry on the Mississippi River,” Ports America CEO Matthew Leech said. “With over 100 years of operations in New Orleans, Ports America is excited to be part of the future for the next century.”
In 2020, after a lengthy site selection process and feasibility studies, Port NOLA purchased 1,200 acres of land in Violet, downriver from New Orleans, to accommodate the terminal, value-added services and warehousing facilities, and provide a natural buffer for the nearby community. The latest design incorporates community feedback gathered over the past two years regarding traffic, drainage and other impacts on nearby homes and businesses.
“This partnership is pivotal for the future growth in trading Louisiana agricultural commodities in the global marketplace,” Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain said. “While bulk grains, grain products and edible oils are exported through the port, the dominant product is poultry. Poultry is one of the largest agricultural enterprises in Louisiana, contributing over $1 billion to the state’s economy.
“This project will only further the success of Louisiana agriculture exporters and the many products they have to offer the global market. We welcome this momentous new partnership and the economic impact it will have across Louisiana.”
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Port officials say one reason why they have developed this expansion plan is because the Gulf of Mexico is becoming more important in terms of cargo operations. Port Houston is having a record year in terms of container volume, taking advantage of the cargo shift from Los Angeles and Long Beach and the increasing number of vessels now traveling through the expanded Panama Canal, which can accommodate the largest containerships in the world.
Port officials said the project will create jobs while preventing the loss of jobs to competing ports in Houston or Mobile, Ala.
State Sen. Sharon Hewitt said in a news statement that the Legislature and governor have committed $50 million to the project so far.
“I will continue to work with the Port of New Orleans, our federal delegation and our local leaders,” she said, “to ensure that the infrastructure needed to support the Louisiana International Terminal is delivered timely.”
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