Aucoin: Port projects target economic prosperity, labor force help

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, September 7, 2016

To remain relevant and competitive in the global market, the Port of South Louisiana (PSL) must ensure that its facilities and equipment are up to date in order to stay competitive and attract new business.

Fortunately, PSL receives financial assistance from Louisiana’s Capital Outlay and Port Priority Programs for our projects. Currently, we are in the process of improving several warehouses, adding a rail siding between Canadian National (CN) and Kansas City Southern (KCS) railroads and constructing a much-needed hangar at the Executive Regional Airport.

Two warehouses within Globalplex Intermodal Terminal in Reserve are undergoing necessary improvements. One requires structural, mechanical and electrical enhancements to two conveyor systems, connecting it to the bulk cargo dock as well as upgrades to the dock’s ship loader.

When upgrades are complete, its exterior and roof will be renovated, and it will be equipped with two additional conveyor systems and transfer hopper systems. This project, which received $2.84 million from the Capital Outlay Program, will be out for bid in the near future.

PSL is also adding 72,000 square feet to a 45,000 square-foot warehouse that will allow the tenant to more than double its storage capacity. This project, which received $12.2 million from the Port Priority Program, is already 60 percent complete and is projected to be ready for use by the first week of November.

Within Globalplex Intermodal Terminal is a 130-acre state-certified greenfield site. It is flanked by Canadian National railroad to the south and the Kansas City Southern railroad to the north.

In order to allow full utilization of this site, PSL will be constructing a rail siding connecting the two railroads.

The purpose of this project, which received Capital Outlay Program funding of $3 million, is to attract rail-dependent tenants to PSL by offering them a distinct competitive advantage in reduced freight costs. The project has been approved by both CN and KCS.

A contract has been approved to erect a 6,400 square-foot transient hangar
at PSL’s Executive Regional Airport. The much-needed, $580,000 self-funded hangar, to be located north of the terminal building, will allow for short-term aircraft storage, thus making the airport more marketable to business aircraft operators and more competitive with surrounding regional airports.

Other projects that are coming down the pike:

• PSL-owned former PepsiCo building on West 10th Street, currently leased by Cross Roads Center, will undergo roof improvements.

• Globalplex Intermodal Terminal’s general cargo dock is set to be reinforced, which will allow for new, higher-capacity mobile cranes to be installed (anticipated to increase throughput from 400,000 to 1.5 million tons-per-year).

• There are plans to construct a PSL administration building within Globalplex Intermodal Terminal, known as the Business Development Center, which will consolidate PSL departments and save on utility and travel expenses in the process, monies that will be used elsewhere to further develop port business.

• Rail storage is scheduled to be added at PSL’s SoLaPort terminal on the West Bank.

Infrastructure upgrades increase opportunity to capture additional cargo, thereby increasing throughput tonnage and job creation. This activity brings in new revenue that allows for further upgrades and improvements.

To that end, these projects are vital to sustaining and promoting further economic prosperity for the Port of South Louisiana, the River Region and its labor force.

Paul Aucoin is executive director of the Port of South Louisiana. For more information, call 985-652-9278.