“The acquisition of the New Orleans Public Belt will allow us to invest synergistically and strategically to optimize Port NOLA’s seamless multimodal solutions between river, rail and road with consideration for community impacts,” said Brandy D. Christian, Port NOLA President and CEO. “The Port’s Gateway Master Plan will include strategic efforts to grow business while incorporating the Belt in the Port’s mission. Additionally, Port tenants will have greater certainty and comfort to make investments knowing the Belt’s future is secure and stable.”
The New Orleans Public Belt assets were transferred to a public non-profit corporation, which is a subsidiary of the Port. Now known as the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad Corporation (NOPBC), it will operate under the Port’s umbrella as a separate entity – a public nonprofit corporation formed as a subsidiary of the Port. The Port’s Board of Commissioners will also serve as NOPBC’s Board of Directors, excluding any members that have leases or rail agreements. Port NOLA President and CEO Christian will serve as NOPBC’s CEO, while NOPBC General Manager Doug Campbell will oversee the daily operations of the shortline railroad.
"We are looking forward to ushering in a new era at the NOPBC and working with the Port to offer customers and potential customers excellent service options across the New Orleans Gateway and beyond,” said Campbell. “Our day-to-day operations will continue to be led by a team of 175 railroaders whose experience is some of the best in the business."
The realignment comes at a time of cargo growth for the Port, which saw increases in both container and breakbulk volume in 2017. The Gateway Master Plan, which will be released within the next few months, will identify bold strategic opportunities for the Port and the Public Belt to further grow together.
“Market trends indicate the Gulf in general and Port NOLA specifically are poised for growth in the coming years for a number of commodities and the potential for new trade routes,” said Christian. “To fully realize our potential a true Gateway, we intend to harness all of our multimodal options, including river, road and rail. Our container-on-barge service, highway access and the Public Belt ensure maximum flexibility and truly integrated logistics solutions. We intend to improve service to existing customers and plan to extend our reach by providing more efficient service to markets that might now currently rely on other ports.”
The transfer of the two working wharves to the City carries historical significance, opening up previously inaccessible riverfront to the public with a contiguous 3.2-mile stretch in the city center.
“Port NOLA and the Public Belt celebrate this milestone that will allow residents and visitors to see for themselves what we experience daily, the magic of a working river,” said Christian.