NEW ORLEANS — On Dec. 10, Governor John Bel Edwards welcomed four new 100-foot-gauge container gantry cranes to the Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal at Port NOLA, the culmination of a more than 15,643-nautical mile journey from Shanghai, China. The $112 million investment, which included $49 million for the construction and delivery of the cranes, and $63 million to modernize the wharf and extend the crane rail infrastructure, began in 2019 when Port NOLA’s Board of Commissioners approved the project. The four new gantry cranes are essential to Port NOLA’s overall plan for the gateway, which includes optimizing facilities in New Orleans and building the Louisiana International Terminal, a new container terminal, in St. Bernard Parish.
“This is an exciting example of Louisiana investing in port infrastructure to support the nation’s supply chain of the future,” said Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards. “It is a great day for the Port of New Orleans and the outstanding men and women who work on the Lower Mississippi River. Containerized cargo has more than doubled over the last decade at the Port of New Orleans and this investment positions Louisiana to grow a major economic engine and job creator.”
Port NOLA President and CEO Brandy Christian applauded the governor and the Louisiana legislature for providing project funding, including $43 million from the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development and the State’s capital outlay budget.
“I want to thank Governor Edwards and members of the legislature for supporting international trade in Louisiana,” Christian said. “This investment makes Port NOLA more competitive in the global trade-based economy and grows family-supporting maritime jobs here at home. The new cranes increase efficiency through the Louisiana gateway and help fuel our economy.”
Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries Co. LTD manufactured and delivered the cranes to the Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal on Dec. 9 via the M/V Shanghai Zhen Hua 23. The 1,600-ton cranes are fully electric, with zero diesel emissions, and can reach containerized cargo stacked 20 containers across a ship.
“Louisiana’s natural multimodal environment is our greatest asset, the core of which is the Mississippi River,” said Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Shawn Wilson. “These cranes are evidence to the world that our state and DOTD, in partnership with the Port of New Orleans, remains committed to multimodal infrastructure, global goods movement, and doing our part to ensure supply chain stability.”
The larger workhorse container ships currently serving the Gulf range from 8,000 to 9,500 twenty-foot-equivalent units (TEUs). The new 100-foot-gauge gantry cranes will more efficiently service these larger ships, complement the terminal’s two existing 100- foot gauge cranes and allow Port NOLA’s three 50-foot-gauge gantry cranes to serve smaller vessels as well as Port NOLA’s container-on-barge service to Memphis and the Port of Greater Baton Rouge. Once the new cranes are operational, nine ship-to-shore container cranes will serve the terminal.
Boos Navarre LLC designed and managed gantry crane construction and commissioning, AECOM designed the crane rail extension project and Volkert Inc. managed the construction phases of the crane rail extension project. Orion Industrial Construction was the prime contractor for the wharf reconstruction and Metairie, La.-based Centric Gulf Coast Inc., served as the prime contractor for the electrical work.
“The successful delivery of the cranes would not have been possible without the support, cooperation and coordination of the entire maritime community,” Christian said. “The Crescent River Port Pilots, Associated Branch Pilots and the U.S. Coast Guard coordinated safe passage on the River and ensured transit went safely and smoothly.”
Container volumes rose 10 percent at Port NOLA in 2019 alone, topping 648,000 TEUs. Louisiana’s only international container port continues to expand its ocean carrier service network, a sign that the largest carriers in the world are confident in the Port NOLA gateway. Port NOLA features 12 weekly container services from three major global alliances, as well as independent carriers, with direct connections to 60 global ports and more than 450 others through connecting services.
The four new cranes, and the crane rail extension project, is the first of three project phases to expand the Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal. Phase 2, called the Priority Enhancements Project is a $10.23 million investment scheduled for completion by the end of 2022. The third phase is the Terminal Complex Modernization Program and invests another $21.5 million into the terminal. The projects include adding 200 electrified plugs to handle additional refrigerated container cargo, a new empty container gate complex, and the reconstruction and strengthening of 15 acres of heavy-duty concrete paving to expand loaded container storage capacity, among other items. The multi-year project investments total an estimated $143.73 million.
According to a 2019 study by the LSU Economics & Policy Research Group and JLL Ports, Airports and Global Infrastructure, Port NOLA creates and supports more than 119,500 jobs and $29.8 billion of economic output nationwide. In Louisiana, Port NOLA generates 21,700 jobs and $4.3 billion in economic output.