Port of New Orleans Launches Plan for New $1.5B Container Terminal

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The 9,500 TEU Pusan C, one of the largest vessels to call at Port NOLA’s current container facility at the Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal (Port of New Orleans)

Published Dec 18, 2020 9:17 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Port of New Orleans has launched the process to build a new $1.5 billion container terminal capable of serving the largest boxships calling the U.S. Gulf Coast. On Thursday, the port's board gave the green light to buy land in St. Bernard Parish and start a two-year due diligence and permitting process for a new facility, which will complement its existing Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal. 

The new 1,100 acre site is located at river mile 83, about 15 miles downriver from the city's core. The port is upgrading its current downtown terminal, but it says that a new space is needed in order to support the larger ships that are calling U.S. Gulf Coast ports. The new location has no air draft restrictions, and with a planned U.S. Corps of Engineers dredging project to deepen the lower river to 50 feet, it will be possible to create a facility that can receive vessels of up to 16,000 TEU.  

“Providing the next generation of critical infrastructure which meets the needs of our container carrier partners and provides economic prosperity for St. Bernard Parish, our region and the State of Louisiana is Port NOLA’s number one priority,” said president and CEO of the Port of New Orleans, Brandy D. Christian, “Our strategic master plan identified the opportunity, and we are working hard to move forward with a project that provides regional and statewide benefits.”

The site has deep-draft riverfront acreage that has historically been used for marine operations like ship repair and breakbulk cargo. It is within an existing flood protection system, and it has ready access to six Class 1 railroads and the interstate highway system. 

The port expects to buy the property before the end of this month, and it will then launch a process of due diligence and community engagement. 

The waterfront at river mile 83 is occupied by the former Violet Dock Port, a marine terminal seized by the local port district of St. Bernard Parish in 2007. The former owner sued, and a series of rulings in state courts ultimately compelled St. Bernard Port to compensate the previous owners a total of $29 million (plus interest and attorney's fees). Court records show that litigation over payment is still ongoing. The parties advised the court in early December that they have reached a settlement agreement, and after it is funded, they expect to dismiss the case.