Citing economic projections of 18,000 jobs and nearly $3 billion of economic benefits in its first eight years, the board of directors of Greater New Orleans Inc (GNO Inc) has endorsed the Sea Point project to build a $150 million container transfer station in the lower Mississippi River at Venice LA in Plaquemines Parish. An economic development organization, GNO Inc is dedicated to facilitating the creation of 30,000 new jobs in the region during the next five years.
In its resolution, the GNO Inc board pointed to the potential for Sea Point to draw new container traffic to the Mississippi River system, leading to increased container handling at the Ports of New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Sea Point also opens doors to develop international container traffic at many ports on the rivers and waterways of Louisiana.
Projections estimate that Louisiana's cargo traffic could double or triple in a relatively short time when Sea Point is in operation. Louisiana ports have been lagging in development of increased container traffic despite growth at other ports. Currently, the Port of New Orleans handles about 20% of the container traffic in Gulf ports and ranks 14th among United States ports, based on annual volumes of loaded containers handled.
Cheaper sorting, handling and the reduced vessel expense required to reach docks 90 miles above Venice make Sea Point an attractive combination for New Orleans and other ports. The Sea Point concept consists of a pile-supported concrete platform 2,100 feet long and 140 feet wide that will be erected in the river 400 feet off of the west bank in Venice. A series of special-purpose cranes will move containers between ships and 16-standard river barges. These barges will be moved in multiple units to New Orleans and other destinations by push towboats used in the river and inland waterway system. The barges, which hold about 50 containers each, can be loaded for individual ports or destinations within ports for the cheapest transfer to railheads and interstate connections.
New Orleans, with its east bank docks, Industrial Canal docks, and west bank docks, has its rail terminals in similar locations and can benefit from the resulting reduction in drayage when barges are placed close to the appropriate rail terminal.
An economic study by Dr Tim Ryan, chancellor at the University of New Orleans, and Dr Loren Scott, professor emeritus of economics at Louisiana State University, estimate that Sea Point will generate more than $39 million in annual state tax revenue and nearly $31 million in annual local tax revenue within 10 years of beginning operations. Earlier this year, the Louisiana Legislature unanimously passed a joint resolution (HCR 186) urging Gov Blanco to support the Sea Point facility and its loan guarantee request. The Millennium Port Authority also unanimously recommended Sea Point as part of the first phase of its development.
For a copy of GNO Inc's resolution supporting Sea Point, phone Zoey Devall, director-public and media relations of GNO Inc, at 504-527-6931.