Port of New Orleans gets $226M for international container terminal

Port of New Orleans

Efforts to build an international container terminal at the capable of handling ultralarge container vessels got a boost Monday from the federal government.

The port announced it was awarded an additional $226.2 million grant to assist in constructing the $1.8 billion Louisiana International Terminal (LIT), a project that aims to position the port as the top international container gateway in the Gulf of Mexico.

“We are incredibly honored to receive this landmark grant award, which underscores decades of site and market analysis and reflects the recognition of our transformational project on a global scale,” Brandy Christian, the port’s resident and CEO, said in a news release. “Not only is this the biggest economic development grant in Louisiana history, but also the largest federal investment in a new container terminal in the history of the U.S. Department of Transportation.”

The Louisiana International Terminal will be capable of handling 2 million twenty-foot equivalent units annually and ultralarge container vessels that travel through the Panama Canal once it is completed around 2028.

The project is a public-private partnership among the Port of New Orleans, New Jersey-based Ports America and Switzerland-based Mediterranean Shipping Co.’s investment arm, Terminal Investment Ltd. The partnership has already committed $800 million toward the LIT.

The Port of New Orleans was also recently awarded a $73.77 million federal grant to advance the first construction phase of the project. Additionally, Louisiana lawmakers have already provided nearly $30 million toward early development costs for the container terminal.

The LIT is projected to generate 18,000 jobs in Louisiana, as well as more than $1 billion in total new state and local tax revenue by 2050, according to state officials.

“This additional investment will leverage the Port of New Orleans’ extensive connectivity to interstate systems, railroads, waterways and hubs,” U.S. Rep. Troy Carter Sr., D-La., said in a statement.

The Louisiana International Terminal is one of two major container facility projects underway along the lower Mississippi.

Last week, the Plaquemines Port Harbor and Terminal District announced it has signed a $500 million preliminary deal with APM Terminals to build their own container facility about 20 miles south of the Port of New Orleans.

Officials for Plaquemines Port said the initial construction phase will begin with a 200-acre development that includes a container terminal with on-dock railing and a berth capable of handling ships that carry 14,000 TEUs.

“This will truly make Plaquemines ‘The Louisiana Gateway Port’ … . [T]he geographic and strategic advantages are overwhelming,” Charles D. Tillotson, executive director of the Plaquemines Port, said in a news release.

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