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Port of New Orleans

Port of New Orleans Photo CC BY 3.0/Gnovick

St. Louis ‘Ag’ Ports Get Behind New Orleans Container Terminal Development

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 1941
September 20, 2023

The St. Louis regional ports and the St. Louis Regional Freightway are throwing their support behind the development of the Louisiana International Terminal (LIT) at the Port of New Orleans (Port NOLA).

The LIT is a container terminal project along the Lower Mississippi River that aims to improve cargo flow for industries such as advanced manufacturing, agribusiness, and port operations in the Southeast and Midwest regions.

The $1.8 billion container terminal will be located on 400 acres of Port NOLA land in Violet, Louisiana, just down river from New Orleans. The addition of the terminal will eliminate air-draft restrictions, allowing larger vessels to call on Port NOLA and significantly increasing Louisiana’s import and export capacity.

The St. Louis region’s ports in 2017 signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Port NOLA to boost trade and cargo traffic, particularly through container-on-barge service, which currently moves an average of 30,000 TEUs per year between New Orleans, the Port of Greater Baton Rouge, Memphis and now St. Louis. The St. Louis Regional Freightway is also assisting Port NOLA in seeking federal infrastructure funding for the LIT project.

Dubbed the “Ag Coast of America”, the St. Louis region is home to a 15-mile stretch of the Mississippi River that has the highest level of grain and fertilizer barge handling in the nation’s inland waterway system.

Leveraging the advantages of the region’s transportation network, which includes six Class I railroads and four interstates located within 500 miles of one third of the U.S. population, the LIT will help strengthen the nation’s global competitiveness and improve freight volumes especially for agricultural commodities.

“The Port of New Orleans is proud to be a global gateway to the middle of the United States and into Canada through the St. Louis corridor of the Mississippi River system,” said Port of New Orleans President & CEO Brandy D. Christian.

New Jersey-based Ports America, one of North America’s largest marine terminal operators, and Swiss shipping giant Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), through its terminal development and investment arm Terminal Investment Limited (TiL), have committed $800 million toward the project, which will also receive funding from state and federal sources.

The LIT terminal is planned to have an initial capacity of 180,000 – 280,000 containers per year, but at full build-out is planned with a maximum capacity of 1.2 million containers (2 million TEU) per year in 25 years.

The project is currently in the design and permitting phase of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ environmental review process. Construction is slated to begin in 2025 and the first berth to open in 2028.

Dennis Wilmsmeyer, Executive Director of America’s Central Port, considers working with the Port of New Orleans on its new container terminal to be imperative. “We need to be moving more containers via the Mississippi River in order to take advantage of barge transportation as the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly mode of transportation,” says Dennis Wilmsmeyer, Executive Director of America’s Central Port.

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