NEW ORLEANS — At an event Oct. 27, Port of New Orleans leaders presented a progress report on efforts to build the $1.5 billion Louisiana International Terminal in the parish of Saint-Bernard.
Port NOLA President and CEO Brandy Christian said the updated plan incorporates feedback from the St. Bernard community on “traffic, neighborhood buffers, drainage and more.”
“The feedback we’ve received over the past two years from conversations at our community office, our two community advisory boards, three open houses and two 30-day public notice periods has given us valuable insights,” Christian said. “We are listening and will continue to seek feedback in order to deliver a project that provides opportunity and protects quality of life.”
The port hopes the facility, which will be located on nearly 1,100 acres in Violet, will serve the larger vessels that are becoming more common in the container industry. Officials said that without a terminal downstream of the Crescent City Connection bridge, Louisiana stands at losing out to competing Gulf ports.
The project is at the start of a federal permitting process required under the National Environmental Policy Act that involves studies of traffic, cultural resources, wetlands, air quality and other topics. The US Army Corps of Engineers, which oversees the process, will analyze the results of these studies and decide whether to issue construction permits. Moreover, the port is engaged in a kind of public relations battle with a group of well-funded activists who oppose the development.
The port hopes to innovate in 2025 and open the first berth in 2028.
“Container shipping not only delivers goods to our grocery stores and packages to our doorsteps, but it’s also how Louisiana manufacturers and agricultural producers get their products to market,” Christian said. “If our state wants to stay in the container shipping business – and retain exports and increase imports – we need to build the Louisiana International Terminal.”
“The Port of New Orleans has long been a key driver of our regional and national economy, supporting thousands of jobs,” said Michael Hecht, President and CEO of Greater New Orleans Inc. of Louisiana is essential to ensuring that our region remains a global logistics hub. In addition, investments made by the Port of New Orleans will create well-paying jobs and generate tax revenue in St. Bernard Parish and the region.
Port NOLA said it would make ‘massive investments’ in sustainability, including shore power which will allow ships to connect to shore electricity and switch off diesel engines when docked . Port operators will also invest in a fleet of largely electric equipment, and the terminal will also host container barge services, which move containers across the river by barge rather than road or rail.
Perhaps the keystone of the whole project is the design and construction of a road to transport trucks to and from the terminal. The port said the project will be a catalyst to “align public and private resources to make a long-imagined public road in Bas-Saint-Bernard a reality.”
Port officials said the St. Bernard Transportation Corridor, which would connect the Lower St. Bernard to the Interstate System, received a $50 million funding commitment from the Louisiana Legislature and was added to the metropolitan transport plan. Last week, the state released $2 million of those funds for the Regional Planning Commission to conduct a feasibility study on the corridor, which will begin shortly. The road would serve the terminal and the public.
The port said its engineering team had designed a layout that keeps the St. Bernard Freeway near its original location and “includes more buffers to separate terminal neighborhoods, an overpass for cars to avoidance of a level crossing, space for Merrick Cemetery to be expanded, and space for a parish-planned cycle and pedestrian path along the seawall.
To solve the drainage problems, the plan includes a system of pumps and canals, as well as an on-site pumping station which will be managed by the port.
The Port estimates that the Louisiana International Terminal will have an economic impact that begins with construction, grows with the opening of the terminal, and continues to increase over time. The new terminal “will bring 17,000 new direct and indirect jobs, $1 billion in new tax revenue to the state, $470 million to St. Bernard Parish, and a 15% increase in personal income for St. Bernard Parish.” by 2050,” officials said.
“The future of our state rests on competition in a global marketplace. So we need to invest in a trade-based economy. We must invest like our neighbors to the south or be left behind. And if we do it right, we have the opportunity to be the next generation leader in global commerce,” said Christian.