Port expands cargo handling capacity with new pier

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 13, 2013

RESERVE – Despite warm temperatures and high winds, officials at the Port of South Louisiana celebrated the ribbon cutting of the new Maritime Security Operations Center and the dedication of Finger Pier on Tuesday afternoon.  
Public figures such as Board of Commissioners President P. Joel Murray III, Director of Operations Mitch Smith and Executive Vice President Raymond Fryoux were in attendance.
Finger Pier is a cargo dock extension that was completed last month at a cost of $19.5 million. The project was started in May 2010. According to Jodi Conachen, director of communications for the DOTD, the general cargo dock is 204 feet wide and 660 feet long. The project added an additional 44 feet to the width of the dock and 750 feet to the length.
The project was funded through grants from the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development and revenue bonds, and it will facilitate calls from additional vessels. Finger Pier will allow barges and vessels to moor on its outboard side, while only barges will be allowed on its inboard side. Finger Pier is expected to improve the efficiency of vessel-to-barge and truck-to-barge action by allowing simultaneous operations on both sides.
“True progress is achieved through partnership, and this project showcases the collaborative efforts of the state and ports working for the best interests of our citizens,” said LA DOTD Secretary Sherri H. LeBas. “Keeping our ports competitive is of the utmost importance to our communities and economy as they are very important to our state.”
The MSOC is a command and control center meant for managing emergencies within the port’s jurisdiction. It will be linked with Maritime Security Operations Centers at the four other deep-water ports on the lower Mississippi River, as well as federal, state and local emergency response agencies. The 2000-square-foot building is constructed of hardened concrete and steel. It also has features such as impact-resistant glass and is built to withstand 150-mph winds. The MSOC is equipped with the latest in communication and surveillance equipment, with backup emergency power provided by a 150-kilowatt generator.
The project, which was started in November 2011, cost an approximate $1.1 million, which was funded by grants from both Homeland Security and the Louisiana Department of Transportationand Development. The building was completed in July 2012.
The state invests approximately $20 million per year on port projects through the Port Priority Program. Over the last five years, the DOTD has provided more than $144 million for infrastructure improvements through this program.