Congressman Scalise, LaGrange Join Louisiana Congressional Delegation Members, Maritime Industry For Hurricane Katrina Remembrance Ceremony
Congressman Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Port President and CEO Gary LaGrange today joined a host of elected officials and industry representatives in honoring federal partners that played major roles in assisting the entire Port community to reach new heights in the decade following Hurricane Katrina.
“Since August of 2005, the Port of New Orleans has overcome great obstacles and rose to historic highs in terms of cargo and passenger volumes, revenues and industrial tenants,” LaGrange told the crowd gathered at the Port’s Erato Street Cruise Terminal. “With the help of many, the Port was able to reopen to commerce just 12 days after the storm to prove to the world that New Orleans was open for business.”
Honored at the ceremony for their roles in the resiliency of the industry were the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Maritime Administration, U.S. Army Corps of the Engineers, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Congressman Scalise said federal partners in Louisiana played and continue to play a vital role in the overall mission of the Port and maritime industry.
“The story of recovery in south Louisiana is inspiring, and the Port of New Orleans has played such an important role in this remarkable story," Rep. Scalise said. “While there is still work to be done, together we have rebuilt a world-class port and a region that is even stronger and more resilient today than it was before the storm.”
The ceremony, which was also attended by U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy (R. La.), Congressman Cedric Richmond (D-La.) and Congressman Garret Graves (R-La.), was jointly sponsored by the Port, Crescent River Port Pilots Association and the Louisiana Maritime Association. Since 2005, the Port reached new highs in container volumes, a 14-year high in overall tonnage in 2014, surpassed the 1-million annual passenger mark in 2014 and reimagined the more than 1,000 acres of industrial property along the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal into a center for logistics and value-added cargo operations.
More than $500 million was invested in the Port in the last decade, including terminal expansions, completely renovated transit sheds, upgraded infrastructure and new state-of-the-industry cruise terminals. And the Port continues to build momentum with recent announcements. For example, the return of Chiquita after a 40-year hiatus, new shipping lines and alliances serving every trade lane in the world, and a booming cruise industry – both oceangoing and inland river – with the recent announcement by Viking River Cruises to create their first North American homeport in New Orleans.
“We are continuing to invest in the Port to stay ahead of the curve,” LaGrange said. “Nearly $40 million in new investments to increase efficiencies and expand container handling capabilities are under construction and nearing completion at the Port of New Orleans’ Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal.”
Included among the projects is a $7.9 million refrigerated container racking system, which is jointly financed by New Orleans Terminal LLC and the Board of Commissioners of the Port of New Orleans. The state-of-the-art racking system will have the ability to store more than 600 refrigerated containers at one time. The project is needed due to surging demand for refrigerated cargo – primarily imported bananas from Chiquita and exported poultry from New Orleans Cold Storage. Construction is ahead of schedule and due to be complete by the fall. New Orleans Terminal is also assembling two rubber-tire gantry cranes (RTGs) to add to their container marshalling yard in an effort to increase container handling and turn times. The project is a more than $4.5 million private investment. These projects are complimented by the new Mississippi River Intermodal Terminal currently under construction, as well. The $25.1 million project will result in a modern and efficient intermodal container transfer terminal to facilitate the movement of marine and rail cargo, while enhancing safety and reducing the carbon footprint of the regional and national transportation systems. The 12-acre terminal is partially funded by a $16.7 million federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant. The project is due for completion in February of 2016.
“All of these projects enhance efficiencies, expand capacity and create new, high-paying maritime jobs in the region,” said LaGrange. “New shipping services, such as CMA CGM’s weekly European service, the MSC/Great White Fleet (Chiquita) Central American service, G6 and 2M shipping alliances regularly calling the Port have led to record volumes.”
Industrial real estate along the Port’s Inner Harbor Navigation Canal is surging with 42 tenants leasing more than 500 acres. Tenants include Folger’s Coffee, New Orleans Cold Storage, Boh Bros. Construction Co., Transportation Consultants Inc., Dupuy Storage and Forwarding, EMR Recycling, and Kearney Companies.
“The investment in our Port infrastructure is a testament to the resilience of Louisiana’s maritime industry and our people,” Rep. Scalise said. “Ten years later, we see that our maritime industry is thriving, our economy is growing, and our City is stronger than ever. The sky is the limit for our future.”
At the conclusion of the event, Rep. Scalise unveiled an exhibit entitled “Partners in Resilience,” which included an installation of nine iconic Port photos from the last 10 years and a video from the maritime industry thanking federal partners who contribute to the success of Louisiana’s maritime industry on a daily basis