Port of New Orleans completes upgrades
Tuesday, October 09 2012 @ 02:35 PM EDT
Contributed by: Don Winner
The port recently spent $36 million on two new gantry cranes and a 4.5-acre marshaling yard that expanded its container-handling area to 115 acres. The site is anchored by the Napoleon Avenue Container Yard, completed in 2004. The port can now handle 640,000 20-foot equivalent units in container cargo per year. But the port estimates another $478 million in upgrades will be necessary to help boost that capability to 1.5 million TEUs per year for when the Panama Canal opens its wider, longer and deeper locks in 2015.
When that $5 billion expansion is complete, the canal will be able to handle the passage of ships as large as 13,000 20-foot equivalent units, compared with 5,000 TEU-sized vessels today, LaGrange said. LaGrange said three separate studies have indicated most of the increase in container traffic will go to the East Coast - Baltimore, New York and Virginia - but he said the influx of more container cargo into the Gulf will translate to an annual growth rate of about 7 percent a year between 2015 and 2025. LaGrange said the port will soon hire a firm to determine the current and potential value of the container terminal to attract outside investment. That possibly could be a shipping line, stevedoring firm or financing entity that could take an equity position in an upgraded terminal and take a share of the revenue. "We know the challenges in securing state funding and federal funding at this point," Gresham said.
The port is gearing up for a $26.1 million upgrade of its intermodal rail yard next to the Napoleon Avenue terminal. The project should increase its capacity with a more efficient layout and set the stage for another 10.5-acre yard that would add 65,000 TEUs of container capacity.