Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards highlighted a $4.2 million grant awarded recently to the West Calcasieu Port by the Economic Development Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The EDA grant targets infrastructure and resiliency improvements in areas affected by Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
To be matched by $1.1 million in local funds, the Commerce Department grant will make possible 600 linear feet of bulkhead and related improvements on the north side of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway at the port.
“Ports are an essential element of our economy and support one of every five jobs in our state,” Gov. Edwards said. “For every dollar invested in port infrastructure, we see a return of eight dollars in taxes, jobs and benefits for Louisiana. That’s why our administration doubled capital spending in our Port Priority Program through DOTD. We’re grateful that the U.S. Commerce Department agrees and has prioritized these improvements at the West Calcasieu Port to strengthen its infrastructure and build capacity for more growth.”
In addition to the bulkhead improvements, the EDA grant will enable the West Calcasieu Port to install a pad that will support heavy-duty cranes. The port averages daily fleeting of 130 barges, and the crane and bulkhead improvements will help it become a more significant player in transporting large industrial modules for the liquefied natural gas industry and related plant construction, according to West Calcasieu Port Director Lynn Hohensee. The port is strategically located 1.5 miles west of the Calcasieu Ship Channel, where LNG industrial development and major module traffic is concentrated.
In 2018, Congress appropriated $600 million in economic adjustment assistance to EDA for disaster relief and recovery following Hurricane Harvey and other natural disasters occurring in 2017. The West Calcasieu Port grant stems from that appropriation.
“The Trump Administration is working diligently to help rebuild communities devastated by natural disasters, including those impacted by Hurricane Harvey,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “These improvements will boost the port’s capacity to serve maritime transportation needs in the region and to continue to serve as a safe harbor during times of disaster.”
The Imperial Calcasieu Regional Planning and Development Commission, or IMCAL, played a vital leadership role in helping the West Calcasieu Port secure the EDA grant, said President Dick Kennison of the West Calcasieu Port Board of Commissioners.
“This grant is a godsend,” Kennison said. “Without this EDA grant, we would have had to complete this project in pieces over a period of years. Our Port Director Lynn Hohensee, our CPA Darla Perry, our attorney Glen James and our engineer Chuck Stutes all played key roles in securing this grant. We especially owe a great debt of gratitude to IMCAL for their support in making this grant process successful.”