The US Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administrator has spoken about how essential it is for US ports to invest in integrated, multi-modal transportation systems after $1.75 million was granted by the government to the Port of Greater Baton Rouge in the US state of Mississippi and the Port of New Orleans in Louisiana last month.
Paul Jaenichen visited the Port of Greater Baton Rouge’s container-on-barge operation Tuesday (December 6) while delivering his personal congratulations on the recent award.
Jaenichen said at the meeting: “It is essential that we invest in integrated, multi-modal transportation systems that support the efficient movement of freight and people throughout [in] this country.
“Our nation’s extensive network of waterways and domestic seaports provide an opportunity to help stimulate economic growth while reducing congestion on our national freight transportation system.”
According to figures from a US Department of Transportation study, there is a savings to the State of Louisiana of $118 per round-trip 40-foot container between New Orleans and Baton Rouge if moved by barge rather than over the road.
The grant is to acquire specialised container loading equipment to increase efficiencies to the current container-on-barge shuttle service operated by marine transportation company SEACOR AMH between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
The shuttle service fulfils a market need by repositioning empty containers from Memphis to Baton Rouge for the increasing volume of resin exports from the Baton Rouge area.
It also provides exporters with new, more efficient transportation options and offers a waterway alternative to re-position empty equipment that would otherwise move by truck or rail.
Jay Hardman, executive director of the Port of Greater Baton Rouge, said: “The container-on-barge service and the application for the MARAD grant have been joint projects for Baton Rouge and New Orleans, with both ports working together for more than a year.”
Port of Greater Baton Rouge is situated at the convergence of the Mississippi River and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. Port of New Orleans’ facilities include 20 million square feet of cargo handling area, more than 3.1 million square feet of covered storage area with 800,000 annual TEU capacity.
Gary LaGrange, President and CEO of the Port of New Orleans, said: “We are thrilled to have received this grant and to be working with the Port of Greater Baton Rouge and SEACOR AMH to offer container-on-barge service to our customers. In addition to the economic and operational benefits, the service has a positive environmental impact, as well.”
Kip Holden, Baton Rouge’s Mayor-President, speaking on behalf of the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative, said: “The mayors of the Mississippi River, from Minnesota to Louisiana, have worked tirelessly for four years to return container movement to the Mississippi River by restoring the Marine Highway Grant Program and forging a coalition of cities, states, companies, and the Federal government.
“The awarding of this grant, and others like it, is a tremendous step in establishing container shipping on the Mississippi from New Orleans to St. Louis and beyond.”