The Board of Commissioners for the Port of Gulfport is set to issue tenders for two major contracts to help in the construction of the much-anticipated West Pier development at the US port.
Following a meeting on Thursday, Commissioners gave the nod to advertise for contracts totalling US$100 million. The significance of their approval could not be understated said Commissioner Jack Norris, who described the decision as an “enormously significant” moment in the port’s history.
With land for the proposed expansion at West Pier now in place, the funding will allow the port to issue tenders for the build of new port facilities and supporting infrastructure.
Gulfport received $600 million in federal Hurricane Katrina relief dollars to help the port get back on its feet. In return, the port is obliged to create as many as 1,200 permanent jobs for local people.
“We've been waiting for this, for a long time, moving from planning, to implementation,” said Gulfport’s port director, Jonathan Daniels.
“Now we have the opportunity to get these projects out on the streets. We're going to see the amount of construction workers that we've been talking about for a long time.”
Daniels continued by adding that the total amount of projects set to be undertaken this year will be closer to $250 million, and that the port is still working with the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to ensure that the port’s channel-dredging project is completed.
Speaking to Mississippi’s SunHerald, Daniels said that port officials are currently negotiating a schedule with the USACE, whilst the federal government has now increased its own funding into the project from just over $3 million to $4 million. Gulfport will pay a further $8 million to aid in its completion.
“This is a significant investment and it allows us to get back to 36 feet (depth),” declared Daniels.