Mississsippi River project huge win for ports, trade and the environmentView Source
Letters: Mississippi River project huge win for ports, trade and the environment
The Advocate – Baton Rouge, LA – 2/23/21 – Joseph Toomy and Ricky Templet
Despite the many challenges that have confronted our federal and state governments in 2020, Gov. John Bel Edwards, the Legislature and our congressional delegation have delivered on a project that many have worked on for years. Federal and state officials along with the maritime industry and others have long advocated for deepening the Mississippi River Ship Channel to accommodate larger ships. This impressive project was revitalized by the Big River Coalition in August 2012. The Port of New Orleans is an essential member of the Big River Coalition that works to promote maintenance of the ship channel to promote maritime commerce and international trade.
This massive $250 million overall project led by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as the federal sponsor and the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development as the nonfederal sponsor will ultimately provide a draft of 50 feet on 256 river miles from the Gulf of Mexico to the Port of Greater Baton Rouge. The Corps began this historic project in September with dredging beginning at the mouth of the river. Phases 2, 3 and 4 will continue to deepen upriver, past Gramercy, until reaching the northern limit at Baton Rouge. The deeper channel matches the draft of the expanded Panama Canal and will allow Louisiana to take full advantage of ships with deeper drafts.
Each additional foot of water draft equals an average of $1 million of cargo per ship. The national economy will see an expected $127 million impact annually. The ports of Baton Rouge, New Orleans, St. Bernard, Plaquemines and the Port of South Louisiana comprise the largest port system in the world. This project will enable Louisiana’s ports, along with manufacturers, farmers, and producers throughout America’s heartland to be more competitive in global markets, meaning larger volumes of cargo and cheaper transportation costs. These cost savings to shippers will, in turn, maximize the competitive advantages with world markets, enhance the system's water carrying capacity and increase the flood protection of businesses, farms and homes.
In addition, a deeper channel will create jobs and restore 1,500 acres of wetlands in the environmentally sensitive birds’-foot delta by utilizing the dredged material for fill. Jefferson Parish has taken this opportunity to collaborate with the key players to accept and effectively utilize the dredged material in much-needed areas of marshland recreation. This is a win-win for both the stakeholders of the ship channel project, which will benefit from the deepened ship channel, and Jefferson Parish, who will utilize the dredged material for marsh recreation versus it going to a landfill.
The deepening of the Mississippi River Ship Channel is truly a historic project that will pay for itself in a few years and generate increased revenues for decades. This vital project will produce economic and environmental benefits for Louisiana and the nation for generations to come.
commissioner, Port of New Orleans
chairman, Jefferson Parish Council