Deepening the Mississippi River a Priority for Louisiana and the Nation
As an advocate of deepening the Mississippi River, a critical element to unencumbered movement of cargo and the success of Louisiana’s -- and the nation’s -- economy, Port of South Louisiana Executive Director Paul Aucoin traveled to Washington, D.C. last month to meet key stakeholders, including Dan Slane, a key member of President Trump’s transition team. Today, Dan is serving in the White House as Deputy Director, Infrastructure at the National Trade Council. In the meeting with Dan Slane, Paul and Mr. Slane discussed issues affecting the Port of South Louisiana, including, and most importantly, the dredging of the Mississippi River. “I stressed…that ensuring the river is open for business will stimulate impressive economic growth and generate thousands of good paying jobs for working Americans,” said Paul Aucoin. It is not just an issue affecting Louisiana; states are dependent on the mouth of the river being properly dredged. It is also a matter of national security. “As a country, the Mississippi River is one of our most valuable resources and we must take steps to ensure its continued reliability.”
President Donald Trump has released a list of 50 “Emergency and National Security Projects,” totaling $317.5 billion in investment and touting the creation of over 193,000 jobs. The list includes three Louisiana projects, one of which is the dredging of the Mississippi River. Projects on the list had to be deemed (a) a national security or public safety “emergency,” (b) “shovel-ready,” with at least 30% of initial design and engineering work complete, (c) a direct job creator, and (d) a project with the potential for increased U.S. manufacturing.
Although Congress authorized a 50-foot channel depth in 1985, the project was never properly funded. While ports on the east coast have been adequately deepened to 50 feet to accommodate today’s deep-draft vessels, the lack of attention to the Mississippi River channel continues to negatively affect ports and the industries that lie upon the largest waterway in the nation.
Today, Aucoin is pleased President Trump is listening and prioritizing this project. As project seven on the list, ranking highest of the three Louisiana projects included, it is catalogued at a cost of $1 billion that would create 200 direct jobs. “I know it’s early on in the process,” Aucoin says “but I am encouraged that Trump’s administration will keep this project on the forefront and will urge Congress to approve it.”
The release of this list and the inclusion of its essential undertaking seems to echo President Trump’s promise to revitalize the nation’s failing transportation infrastructure.
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