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The St. Bernard Port, Harbor & Terminal District was recently named one of only three ports nationwide to be awarded a federal grant from the Department of Transportation to be used for infrastructure improvements.
The Port is set to receive a $13 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant, or a TIGER grant, to help fund the reconstruction of parts of the Chalmette Slip.
Drew Heaphy, executive director of St. Bernard Port, said the grant will allow for some much-needed improvements to be made to the Chalmette Slip, which was built in 1907 in the Port's Arabi Terminal and is the lone deep-draft calm water slip on the lower Mississippi River.
“This grant will provide us with the ability to rehabilitate the last two original wharf sections that have been maintained, but have exceeded their useful lives over the past 110 years,” Heaphy said. “The St. Bernard Port wants to thank our Congressional delegation, U.S. Senators John Kennedy and Bill Cassidy and Congressman Steve Scalise, for their support of our TIGER grant application.”
The Chalmette Slip has six sections of cargo wharves, designated as Sections A through F. Heaphy said the grant funds are earmarked to rehabilitate to modern design standards the last two original wharf sections, A and F.
Heaphy said Section A has been deemed beyond repair by structural engineers due to age and condition and must be rebuilt. Section F is at risk to fail and must be stabilized and structurally strengthened, he said.
“The goal is to maximize operational safety, cargo handling efficiency and capacity, as well as to ensure the Slip is maintained as its intended purpose – a single terminal composed of six wharves that are all in optimum operational capacity,” he said.
The total cost of the improvements, Heaphy said, is approximately $30 million, with $13 million coming from the grant, and the other $17 million provided by a combination of non-Federal sources, including the State of Louisiana Port Development and Construction Priority Program, the St. Bernard Port and its private marine terminal operator, Associated Terminals.
Heaphy said the TIGER grant will allow St. Bernard Port to have continued growth in the years to come.
“The rehabilitation of these wharf sections will allow us to accommodate the increased demand for cargo handling we have been experiencing and greatly increase the Port’s ability to continue to be an economic engine for not only St. Bernard Parish, but the rest of the nation as well,” he said.
Since acquiring the Chalmette Slip in 1993, St. Bernard Port has rehabilitated the other four wharf sections, designated as B and C and D and E. The Port also has built or rehabilitated 450,000 sg. ft. of transit sheds and warehouses, paved marshalling yards, built a dry bulk storage and transfer facility, rebuilt mooring and turning dolphins, constructed truck weigh stations, added security enhancements and stabilized the remaining wharf of Section A.
These completed projects total more than $60 million in capital improvements funded by the Port, State and a Federal ISTEA grant. In addition, Associated Terminals has invested more than $43.5 million for capital improvements at the Arabi Terminal site, including equipment and infrastructure.
St. Bernard Port encompasses the Arabi, Chalmette and Violet Terminals/Industrial Parks, as well as the Meraux and Chalmette Mid-Stream Mooring.