Port Director Calls for Investment in Maritime Infrastructure

Stakeholders addressed Congress and the Trump administration in an online opinion piece

As Louisiana moves through the phases of business reopening and societal reintegration, local stakeholders are turning their sights toward recovery and are urging the national administration to focus on strengthening maritime infrastructure.

Port of South Louisiana Executive Director Paul Aucoin and Executive Director of the Big River Coalition Sean Duffy co-authored an opinion piece published by InsideSources.com to make their plea and to detail the long-term need for increased funding.

“As stakeholders on one of the nation’s busiest ports and waterways, we are committed to ensuring that America’s economic recovery is swift and robust,” Aucoin and Duffy write in their letter. “This is why we are urging Congress and the Trump administration to strongly consider increased investments to our nation’s maritime infrastructure as part of any legislative actions to help the nation manage the economic fallout of the pandemic. Specifically, it is critical that repairs and advancements to the Mississippi River system be prioritized, targeted and strategically executed.”

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The pair explain that the pandemic has had detrimental effects on the farming industry, as school and business closures have caused demand and prices for crops and livestock to plummet. This downward trend, they write, threatens the potential for economic recovery unless preemptive steps are taken to sustain the nation’s ports and farmers, which Aucoin and Duffy say will be crucial assets in an economic rebound. For reference, the Port of South Louisiana is the national leader on grain exports, accounting for more than half of the country’s annual grain output and providing essential stimulation to economies on both the local and national level.

South Louisiana recently notched a crucial victory when Congress approved funding to dredge the Mississippi River Ship Channel, but increased flooding and water levels over the past decade mean that investments are required in other areas, too. Namely, Aucoin and Duffy cite the need for repairing and dewatering the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal Lock, which would in turn require the dredging and deepening of an alternate route in Baptiste Collette.

“The United States is blessed with more miles of navigable waterways than the rest of the world combined,” they write. “As our leaders look to make investments in our future, they should ensure our nation’s infrastructure can meet the demands of the global marketplace. In order to modernize the national waterways infrastructure, we must commit to a long-term strategy to rebuild and maximize our waterways advantage.”

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