Port NOLA Hires Global Firm to Develop Plans for New Roadway in St. Bernard

NEW ORLEANS – Last week, the Port of New Orleans Board of Commissioners passed two resolutions related to the potential St. Bernard Transportation Corridor, a roadway that would connect the proposed $1.8 billion Louisiana International Terminal in St. Bernard Parish to Interstate 510.

First, the board passed a resolution reaffirming its commitment to develop the corridor project. Then it approved another authorizing Port NOLA’s president and CEO, Brandy Christian, to enter into a contract with global firm WSP USA Inc. for consulting services to develop a public-private partnership strategy for the St. Bernard Transportation Corridor. 

WSP said it will analyze potential financing structures, delivery methods, project governance and stakeholder engagement.

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“The Port of New Orleans continues to prioritize development of the St. Bernard Transportation Corridor as a parallel project with construction of the Louisiana International Terminal,” said Christian in a press release. “We are pleased that this new terminal is serving as a catalyst project for a critical roadway that will support future growth in St. Bernard Parish.”

Port NOLA said Louisiana lawmakers have provided nearly $30 million toward early development costs for the LIT project, which is currently in the federal permitting and design stage. The State of Louisiana also committed $50 million for the design of the St. Bernard Transportation Corridor. In June, the Regional Planning Commission awarded a contract to GIS Engineering LLC to study the corridor and other roadway improvements that will support LIT in Violet. 

“WSP is excited to have the opportunity to work with the Port of New Orleans and its partners on this strategic effort to bring this long-awaited project to fruition. We understand the critical need for this link in the transportation network to serve the public and to spur economic development,” said Max Nasser, senior vice president, WSP USA. “Our experience in successfully delivering critical projects internationally, through all traditional and alternative delivery methods, will serve the Port, industry and partner communities well.” 

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Last month, Port NOLA was awarded nearly $74 million from the federal government, in addition to funding commitments from both private industry partners and Port NOLA. 

The LIT project has garnered support from more than a dozen ports in six states and major trade and agriculture associations throughout the heartland of America, but it has vocal opponents closer to home.

A recent poll cited by the daily paper shows that 74% of St. Bernard Parish residents back the “Save Our St. Bernard” campaign working to stop the LIT development despite the fact that the project has broad statewide support from politicians, business leaders and economic development boosters. 

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The container terminal’s champions say the region needs the container terminal to stay competitive with ports in Mobile and Houston. Port NOLA said LIT will be able to serve vessels of all sizes, dramatically increasing the state’s import and export capacity.

LIT will be built through a public-private partnership between Port NOLA and two private terminal operators:  New Jersey-based Ports America and Switzerland-based Mediterranean Shipping Company have committed a combined $800 million to the project. 

The port said LIT will be the biggest public economic development project in the history of the state. A port study shows that by 2050 it will generate 32,000 new jobs nationwide, 18,000 in Louisiana and 4,300 in St. Bernard Parish. It predicts $1 billion in total new state and local tax revenue by that date.

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