The Board of Commissioners of the Port of New Orleans unveiled an ambitious blueprint for short- and long-term growth today, aimed at positioning the Port at the forefront of the global marketplace.
The Board, Port staff and New Orleans-based port planners Jemison & Partners Inc, produced the 2020 Master Plan, a 63-page document entitled ‘Charting the Future of the Port of New Orleans.’ The $1 billion plan maps projects aimed at capturing new container and breakbulk cargo, providing expanded cruise opportunities, and outlines financing mechanisms to bring the plan to fruition.
‘This is one of the most exciting and challenging times in the Port’s history,’ said Port President and CEO Gary LaGrange. ‘With the coming expansion of the Panama Canal and booming global trade from emerging economies, the Port is well positioned to capture new cargoes, create thousands of jobs, and provide new economic opportunities for the region, state and nation. But we must act now to remain ahead of competing Ports.’
The document defines investments of more than $10.2 billion already on the books for competing Ports along the Gulf and East Coasts. Since the report was completed, the number has risen above $11 billion.
‘The Board recognizes and understands our challenges in retaining and improving our competitive advantages,’ said Danny Hughes, chairman of the Port’s Board of Commissioners. ‘With competing ports investing an average of $858 million apiece into infrastructure projects, we must work diligently to secure the funding necessary from public, private and internal sources to build upon our status as a major economic engine for the State of Louisiana and the entire nation.’
Short-term projects are highlighted by the construction of the second phase of the Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal, which would increase the terminal’s capacity by two ship berths and almost 200,000 teus (twenty-foot equivalent units). Additional container cranes would be added, along with the relocation of the current Napoleon Avenue Intermodal Yard. The nearly $250 million investment would enable the Port to attract additional container carriers and expand the business of existing operators.
A third phase of Napoleon Avenue tops the Port’s long-term goals, which would increase container capacity at the terminal to more than 1.3 million teus and require another $240 million investment. Industry analysts estimate world container traffic will more than triple by 2020.
‘Container congestion at West Coast ports and the completion of the widening of the Panama Canal in 2014 will provide the Port of New Orleans grand opportunities for attracting additional Asian cargo in the next decade,’ LaGrange said. ‘We must be ready to accommodate shifting trade routes and expand economic opportunities for our customers, tenants and the hundreds of thousands of hard working people throughout the nation that depend on the cargo handled here.’
Recreating a dockside cold-storage facility also tops the plan’s agenda. The impending closure of the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet has hindered deep-draft access to the Port’s Jourdan Road terminal, which exports frozen poultry and seafood around the world. Port officials identified the Gov. Nicholls Street Wharf to renovate as a dockside cold-storage facility to recreate and expand that capacity on the River. The $30.5 million project would provide a base for significant growth opportunities for dockside cold storage cargo, which would retain more than 359 direct jobs and add more than 500 new direct jobs.
A $75 million investment is aimed at developing a new facility to expand breakbulk cargo capacity outside of the traditional footprint of the Port, potentially on the West Bank of the Mississippi River. The new facility would include two deep-draft ship berths, warehouse space, paved marshalling yards and other infrastructure improvements.
Short-term projects for the cr