Port’s master plan for development released

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 8, 2000

LEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / March 8, 2000

LAPLACE – The Port of South Louisiana is taking the long view toward its Globalplex port facility in Reserve.

A master plan for the port’s development was released last week.

“It’s a snapshot in time of what the consultants suggest we do,” Executive Director Joe Accardo said, “but we have to be flexible to change with changing needs, or we’ll be left behind.”The master plan, a $220,000 study produced by Vickerman, Zachary, Miller, a division of TransSystems Corp. Consultants, was 18 months in the making.It couples current projects at Globalplex with recommended improvements to allow Globalplex to accommodate a variety of cargoes, such as dry-bulk, break-bulk, general cargo and container cargo.

Currently, the port is handling dry-bulk, liquid-bulk and general cargo, with no facilities for container or break-bulk.

The master plan calls for nearly $86 million in construction through 2008, including site work, utilities, rail, wharf, buildings design costs of 6 percent and construction contingency of 30 percent.

“We’ve already contemplated $30 million in expenditure on improvements,” Accardo said.

In 1992, the port acquired the former Godchaux-Henderson Sugar Refinery site in Reserve, a 205-acre property, and began a long-term plan to develop the facility into one befitting the largest-tonnage port facility in the United States.

The master plan looked at assessing the current capabilities and identifying potential cargoes, determined what needed to change to attract these cargoes and suggested the changes necessary to handle these cargoes.

A study of long-term market assessment focused on Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America at the same time found that rail development has placed the port in prime position to exploit its position as a rail trans- shipment center.

At the same time, development of St. John Airport as an air cargo facilitylinked by road to Globalplex should also enhance its intermodal facilities, providing shippers with ready access to road, rail, air and barge shipping.

By 2008, the study estimates, the Port of South Louisiana could be shipping more than double its current cement tonnage of 1,500,000 tons, three times its current 6,000 tons of vegetable oil and nearly 10 times its current 8,000 tons of iron and steel.

At the same time, the port could be handling 750,000 tons of covered dry- bulk cargo, 304,600 tons of pulp and paper, 100,000 tons of sugar and 7,000 tons of containerized cargo.

Among the projects nearing completion is the dock extension at Globalplex which will bring it to 690 feet in length by 204 feet in width, with two massive cranes already installed and awaiting testing. That project should becompleted this summer.

At the same time, requests for proposals from stevedoring companies will be heard March 14 for operation of that expanded dock facility.

More than 150,000 square feet in warehousing is on the drawing board, and funding toward a $2.5 million raw-sugar storage facility has been approved.The master plan also includes alternative development concepts. One is toprovide truck access to all facilities, the second is to provide truck access only to the general cargo facilities, the third does as the second but with an improved access gate on River Road and other possibilities include acquiring more land for enhancement of its transportation system and links to Airline Highway and a direct link to Interstate 10.

Accardo said the port will put up matching funds for an engineering study for an I-10 interchange with Globalplex, to be carried out this summer and possibly be under construction in a couple of years.

At present, the port’s dry-bulk facilities at Globalplex include the Kinder- Morgan cement-storage facility, Majestic Woodchips’ facility (sub-leased from Kinder-Morgan), Vulcan Materials’ limestone and gravel facility and Cal- Western’s vegetable oil facility.

Other assets on or near the site include the old Baker-Heritage building, available for a small manufacturer, and the Godchaux Guest House, used principally for marketing.

The Port of South Louisiana is the largest U.S. tonnage port, with 200 milliontons moved through various terminals in its 54-mile stretch of the Mississippi River. Its headquarters is located on Belle Terre Boulevard inLaPlace.

“We’ve done a lot in the past eight years,” Accardo said, adding he hopes to see similar growth in the coming eight years. “I’ve had some experience inenvisioning projects and getting them through.”

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