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Port of New Orleans set to acquire new land for potential new container terminal

Port of New Orleans set to acquire new land for potential new container terminal
The port's volumes have more than doubled in 10 years

The Port of New Orleans (Port NOLA) is set to acquire new property for a potential new US$1.5bn multimodal container terminal.

Port NOLA intends to acquire property in St. Bernard Parish and begin a two-year due diligence and permitting period that will include robust community engagement.

The container terminal will help to serve the largest container vessels calling in the Gulf of Mexico.

The major economic development project aims to serve industry investments throughout the state of Louisiana and attract business to St. Bernard Parish, New Orleans East, Jefferson Parish, the North Shore and parishes along the lower Mississippi River.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said: “Three months ago, the US Army Corps of Engineers launched a landmark project that will dredge the Mississippi River to a depth of 50 ft, from the Gulf of Mexico to Baton Rouge.

“The Corps believes that work will pay for itself quickly by bringing larger vessels and more commerce to our state. I applaud the Port of New Orleans for investing in Louisiana’s future through key container terminal improvements.”

Port NOLA’s container volumes have more than doubled in 10 years with double-digit growth being recorded in 2018 and 2019.

It has invested over US$100m into four new 100-gauge gantry cranes and associated improvements in its current container facilities in recognition of the need for additional container capacity.

However, the port noted that an additional terminal is needed to handle projected volumes and support the evolving needs of the shipping and logistics industry.

A new terminal would complement Port NOLA’s existing Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal by exceeding water draft levels and eliminating air draft restrictions.

Port NOLA’s president and CEO Brandy D. Christian said: “Providing the next generation of critical infrastructure which meets the needs of our container carrier partners and provides economic prosperity for St. Bernard Parish, our region and the state of Louisiana is Port NOLA’s number one priority.

“This property acquisition and due diligence process is an exciting step forward. Our strategic master plan identified the opportunity, and we are working hard to move forward with a project that provides regional and state-wide benefits.”

Nearly 1,100 acres located in Violet, Louisiana at Mississippi River Mile Marker 83 will be acquired with consideration for a phased project that accommodates terminal operations, terminal access and egress traffic impacts.

Environmental issues and adjacent needs will also be accommodated in this phased project.

St. Bernard Parish president Guy McInnis said: “I am highly encouraged by the cooperation and partnership between St. Bernard Port and the Port of New Orleans, which will benefit both ports and the entire parish.

“St. Bernard Port will improve its facilities and the Port of New Orleans is in the initial phases of the most significant investment in St. Bernard Parish in many years.”

The naturally deep-draft riverfront acreage at Violet has historically been used for maritime operations including ship repair, cargo handling and more.

It also has ample acreage to support ancillary cargo-related logistics and value-added businesses.

The Violet property is within the federal government’s US$14bn flood protection system and includes existing multimodal infrastructure with access to six Class 1 railroads and interstate highways.

The acquisition of this property is expected to be completed by December 31, 2020, which launches a due diligence and community engagement process commencing in early 2021.