Deepwater transit terminal would aid US grains export market

Proposed Louisiana facility would be accessible by new, larger boats

Louisiana State Senator A.G. Crowe, speaking to a meeting of agricultural journalists in New Orleans, proposed building the Louisiana International Gulf Transfer Terminal, a deepwater facility that would allow for new, large containerized cargo vessels, such as those exporting U.S. grains, to offload at the mouth of the Mississippi River. The multibillion dollar project would take advantage of the widening of the Panama Canal, due to be completed in 2014.

Citing the rapid increase in the use of containers in shipping, the senator feels the terminal would be especially helpful for those in the U.S. grain export market.

“We’re looking to install the European/Asian model,” the senator said. “This would enable us to transport any type of product or goods – including grains and soybeans – in containers through the central part of the United States, covering 33 states and about 14,000 miles along the Mississippi River and its tributaries.”

The proposed LIGTT is different than the land-based model utilized by most U.S. ports, which distribute cargo shipments throughout the country by truck and by train. As a transfer terminal, the LIGTT would first offload cargo in containers from large ships and then transfer them to smaller ships for distribution upriver or ports around the globe.

As proposed, the LIGTT would be capable of handling any size container cargo ship coming through the Panama Canal because the natural water depth just off the Southwest Pass of the Mississippi River is 70 feet.

The LIGTT would be built in phases and funded through investment by private industry. “We don’t want to jeopardize the flow of funds to our other ports,” Crowe said.

Senator Crowe’s presentation is available for viewing. A video summary of Senator Crowe’s comments is also available.