Director’s Log

Throughout the COVID-19 health crisis, Port of South Louisiana facilities operated as normal as possible while carefully following strict best-practice directives from state and federal agencies. Concurrently, the Mississippi River experienced a high-water event earlier in the season than normal, which restricted the free-flow of traffic. As a result of these two events, cargo volume is at 93% of normal traffic. Fortunately, the global demand of grain products and petrochemicals have allowed us to keep our cargo volume, though decreased, relatively stable.

Organizationally, non-essential personnel began working from home on March 16. However, since entering into Phase I, staff have been operating within our offices part-time via staggered personnel schedules and following protective and social distancing guidelines. On the other hand, essential personnel (Security and Marine Operations) operated 24/7 since the beginning of the pandemic closure. Marine Operations worked closely with the U.S. Coast Guard to enforce and follow all protocols to protect our staff, the Port, and the state.

During the months of lock down, the Port of South Louisiana continued to push forward with ongoing economic development projects. For instance, construction continued on a 200-rail-car, five-track rail yard for Dow Chemical that will be located at an adjacent port-owned property (SoLaPort). This $8.7 million project, funded by Louisiana’s Capital Outlay program, is scheduled to be complete in October 2020.

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On April 18, the Port of South Louisiana Executive Regional Airport (KAPS) reopened once again after the completion of the runway resurfacing. And as of mid-June, Let’s Go Fly Flight Academy is open for business! They will be offering flight training, aircraft rental, banner flying, city tours, aerial photography, aircraft detailing and will have an A&P mechanic on-site.

Capital improvements at Globalplex Intermodal Terminal:

Building 71 Restoration – Although the contractor worked on the building’s outstanding tasks on a limited basis due to the Mississippi River’s high-water event, structural and cosmetic renovations of the 54,000 square-foot warehouse on Holcim-leased property are 98% complete and should be claimed concluded right on schedule. Seventy percent of the project’s $4.1 million cost was funded by Louisiana’s Capital Outlay program and the remainder covered by Holcim and the Port of South Louisiana.

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General Cargo Dock Retrofitting & Crane Project – In June, the Port of South Louisiana ordered two Konecranes Gottwald Model 6 Portal Harbor Cranes for the general cargo dock. The cranes, which are slated to be commissioned in September 2021, will increase capacity for bulk materials and add flexibility for future handling of containers and project cargo. The purchase of the $12.72 million cranes was funded in part (90%) by $11.448 million from LA DOTD’s Port Construction and Development Priority Program.

Building 76 Rail Siding Rehabilitation – At the request of our tenant, Evonik, the rehabilitation of the rail spur behind the warehouse is complete, reviewed, and approved by Canadian National Railroad. The $300,000 project was funded by the Port of South Louisiana.

Business Development Center – The $9.6 million Capital Outlay construction project has been awarded to the lowest bidder and once we receive final approval from Facility Planning and Control, we will enter into an agreement with the contractor. Groundbreaking is expected to happen by late Summer 2020.

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Lastly, the port submitted a Federal BUILD grant application to the U.S. Department of Transportation for facility in our port district. We are hopeful that in four to six months, we will be the recipient of this grant.

I’d like to recognize the dedication and professionalism of the maritime workforce in their collective effort to keep the steady flow of vital goods while keeping the spread of COVID-19 to a minimum. Within the Port of South Louisiana, more than 30,000 maritime-industry professionals work every day to ensure that cargo moves efficiently through our port. As families, businesses, and communities begin to recover from the pandemic, the Port of South Louisiana aims at reliability of product transfer to all corners of the world and will take whatever actions are needed to support a strong and stable economy. 

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