GULF COAST PORTS 2006 - Mid-Gulf ports continuing post-Katrina bounce-back

By: | at 08:00 PM | Channel(s): Ports & Terminals  

By Paul Scott Abbott, AJOTPorts in the US Central Gulf region are less and less feeling the impacts of Hurricane Katrina, which brought varying levels of devastation with its Aug. 29 landfall. Nearly 10 months later, however, it is clear that the storm will always be remembered.
Examining the latest developments at mid-Gulf ports, including those of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, from east to west:
Alabama State Port Authority at MobileSince 2000, the Alabama State Port Authority at Mobile has spent more than $100 million to expand its general cargo, rail and bulk terminals, including construction of new bulk terminals, warehouses and yards and a blast freezer facility. The authority also has upgraded track and equipment to serve the port’s five Class I railroads – the CSXT, Canadian National, Burlington Northern/Santa Fe, Norfolk Southern and Kansas City Southern.
Currently, the authority is spending $30 million to provide, by late 2006, an additional import capability at its primary bulk-handling facility, McDuffie Terminal, and is launching an additional $42 million enhancement program to increase throughput efficiencies.
Leading the authority’s capital program is the $300 million Mobile Container Terminal. Construction is already under way on the terminal, which is a joint venture with APM Terminals and CMA-CGM. When completed by late 2007, the new terminal is to include a new 400-acre site with 2,000 feet of deepwater berths served by four gantry cranes. The Mobile Container Terminal is part of the larger Choctaw Point project, which also includes a rail intermodal transfer facility and added acreage for value-added industries.
Port of PascagoulaOfficials of the Port of Pascagoula, 10 miles into Mississippi from the Alabama line, report a return to near-pre-Katrina levels, with traditionally strong lumber and paper product cargoes leading the way. The port was operating at a near-record pace last year before the storm hit, causing some $15 million in damages from 135-mph winds and a tidal surge of as many as 16 feet.
Poultry exports also are gaining monthly, with final freezer repairs due for completion this month. An expansion is in progress at the cold storage facility at Terminal A in the Pascagoula River Harbor. Cold storage capacity at that location is being increased to 850,000 cubic feet, and blast-freezing capability is being added as well.
Recent increases in lumber imports from Europe and South America, including as a result of an expansion of Gearbulk service offerings through Pascagoula’s Bayou Casotte Harbor terminals, have generated the need for additional storage capacity. Plans are under way for the development of an additional open laydown area for lumber and other forest products. Furthermore, port officials are assessing options for additional covered storage for lumber and paper products.
Port of GulfportDespite extensive damage caused by Hurricane Katrina, the Mississippi State Port Authority’s Port of Gulfport handled more than 2 million tons of cargo in 2005.
The port’s containerized operation is in full swing. Breakbulk operations started five months after the storm, with arrival of a vessel carrying nearly 1,200 tons of Chilean hardwood.
On Feb. 9, the M/V Tolosa, docked at the port, making use of the port’s new roll-on/roll-off ramp for the first time since a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held for it just a couple weeks before the storm slammed the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The M/V Tolosa is an addition to the Crowley Maritime vessels servicing Gulfport and other ports in weekly Central America and Caribbean service.
The port has recently completed the construction of Shed 16, a 105,000-square-foot warehouse located on the port’s West Pier. The facility has rail access, 805 feet of docking space and the capacity to store 7,000 tons of paper and other commodities.
The port authority is pushing to have additional space constructed by the end of 2007.
Port FourchonLouisia

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For more than a quarter of a century, Paul Scott Abbott has been writing and shooting images for the American Journal of Transportation, applying four decades of experience as an award-winning journalist. A graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, with a master’s magna cum laude from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Abbott has served as president of chapters of the Propeller Club of the United States, Florida Public Relations Association and Society of Professional Journalists. Abbott honed his skills on several daily newspapers, including [em]The Cincinnati Enquirer, The Richmond (Va.) News Leader, Albuquerque Journal and (South Florida) Sun-Sentinel, and was editor and publisher of The County Line, a weekly newspaper he founded in suburban Richmond, Va.[/em] A native Chicagoan, he is a member of American Mensa and an ever-optimistic fan of the Chicago Cubs.