The Port of New Orleans announced progress on the Louisiana International Terminal in St. Bernard Parish, including investments in sustainability, updates on transportation infrastructure, and a new terminal design that directly addresses early community input on traffic, neighborhood buffers, drainage and more.
The $1.5 billion container facility on the Lower Mississippi River will serve larger vessels coming online in the container industry. Without a terminal downriver from the Crescent City Connection Bridge, Louisiana stands to lose to competing ports in the Gulf, a scenario that was analyzed in a recent economic study conducted by Baton Rouge-based economist Dr. Dek Terrell. If Louisiana does not become “big-ship ready,” nearly 10,000 existing jobs and over $10 billion in output in the state would be lost in just a decade.
“Not only does container shipping deliver goods to our grocery stores and packages to our doorsteps, but it’s also how Louisiana manufacturers and agricultural producers get their products to market,” said Port NOLA President and CEO Brandy D. Christian. “If our state is to remain in the container shipping business—and to retain exports and grow imports—we must build the Louisiana International Terminal.”
Michael Hecht, President and CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc. said, “The Port of New Orleans has long been a key driver of our regional and national economy, supporting thousands of jobs. The Louisiana International Terminal is vital to ensuring that our region remains a global logistical hub. What’s more, the investments made by the Port of New Orleans will provide well-paying jobs and drive tax revenue across St. Bernard Parish and the region.”
The terminal, located in Violet in St. Bernard Parish, is undergoing a multi-year design and permitting process, with construction slated to begin in 2025 and the first berth to open in 2028. Port NOLA is finalizing negotiations with private partners who are industry-leading ocean carriers and terminal operators and who will be making high-dollar investments in the project.
As design progresses, Port NOLA is announcing massive investments in sustainability. The Louisiana International Terminal will be equipped with shore power, allowing vessels to connect to onshore electricity and to turn off diesel engines while at dock. Shore power can eliminate up to 98% of ship-related emissions, vastly reducing the environmental footprint of a maritime terminal. Operators will also be investing in a largely electric fleet of equipment. Port NOLA is working with Entergy Louisiana to develop an onsite substation to provide the electricity needs for the terminal. Additionally, the terminal will be designed to grow container-on-barge services, which move containers up and down the river by barge rather than road or rail.
“One of the benefits of building a new terminal from the ground up is that we can implement the latest advances in green technologies,” said Christian. “And with air quality and noise common concerns that came up in our community outreach, I’m pleased to share our partners’ early commitments to sustainability.”
The Louisiana International Terminal project is also serving as the catalyst to align public and private resources to make a long-imagined public roadway in Lower St. Bernard into a reality. The St. Bernard Transportation Corridor, which will connect Lower St. Bernard to the interstate system and serve the terminal and the public, has received a $50 million commitment in funding from the Louisiana Legislature and has been added to the Metropolitan Transportation Plan. Last week, the State released $2 million of those funds for the Regional Planning Commission to conduct a feasibility study on the corridor, which will begin shortly.
“The input we received over the past two years from conversations at our community office, our two Community Advisory Councils (CACs), three public open houses, and during two 30-day public notice periods gave us valuable insight,” said Christian. “We are listening, and we will continue to ask for feedback in order to deliver a project that provides opportunity and protects quality of life.”
Today, Port NOLA is revealing a new design for the Louisiana International Terminal that incorporates community feedback gathered over the past two years. Guided by community input, the Port’s engineering team worked to design a layout that keeps St. Bernard Highway close to its original location while maintaining optimal operational efficiencies.
In addition to keeping St. Bernard highway along the river, the updated layout also includes more buffers to separate neighborhoods from the terminal, an overpass for cars to avoid a rail track crossing, space for the Merrick Cemetery to expand, and space for a Parish-planned bike and pedestrian path along the levee. To address drainage concerns, the more detailed plan includes a system of pumps, canals, and an onsite pumping station that will be managed by the Port, lessening the current drainage burden on the local government.
“The Violet community has a seat at the table with the planning of this project. I’m supporting the Port because it’s going to bring jobs, a new school, and a space for our cemetery to expand,” said Pastor Kevin Gabriel, CAC Member and President of the St. Bernard NAACP.
The Louisiana International Terminal will deliver an economic impact that begins with construction, grows when the terminal opens, and continues to increase over time. The new terminal will transform Louisiana’s economy, bringing over 17,000 new direct and indirect jobs, $1 billion in new tax revenue to the state, $470 million to St. Bernard Parish, and a 15% increase in personal income in the parish by 2050.
“The Louisiana International Terminal will bring much needed investment to St. Bernard Parish and will spur economic growth and business opportunities here and throughout the region,” said Mindy Nuñez Airhart, CAC Member, St. Bernard Chamber of Commerce Board Member, and Chairwoman of the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce. “As a business owner near the future terminal, I appreciate the opportunity for engagement in the Port’s development plans.”
“Our state’s future rests in competing in a global market. So, we must invest in a trade-based economy. We must invest like our Southern-state neighbors or get left behind. And if we do it right, we have the opportunity to be the next generation leader in global trade,” said Christian.
The project is at the beginning of a federal permitting process required under the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA. This involves studies on topics ranging from traffic and cultural resources to wetlands and air quality. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which oversees the process, will analyze the results from those studies and decide if it will issue permits for construction.