Despite a worldwide pandemic, three successful projects were completed at the Port of Greater Baton Rouge in 2020: a major expansion of shipping container storage capacity; delivery of a custom-made, deep-reach stacker for transloading containers into and out of barges; and the opening of a $22 million railcar chambering yard.
Last year, more than 16,000 containers moved through the Louisiana port, more than double the volume of 2017 when the service began. In the process, SEACOR AMH LLC transports empty containers from Memphis to the Port of Greater Baton Rouge via barge to be loaded with resin from area plants, and then moves the loaded barges downriver to the Port of New Orleans for international transport.
This rapid increase in container volumes prompted the Port of Greater Baton Rouge to increase the size of its container storage facility. The $5 million expansion created nearly 4 acres of additional paved container storage capacity and gave the port the ability to store about 2,000 containers.
A 20% efficiency gain in its container operations was just one positive outcome of the port’s new, deep-reach container stacker known as The Big Red Beast. With its telescopic boom for stacking four containers high, shorter loading and unloading times have helped meet the increasing demand for container shipping services for area customers in the petrochemical industry sector, says Port Executive Director Jay Hardman. Financed almost 100% by a Maritime Administration grant, the one-of-a-kind Beast was designed and manufactured specifically for the port by Taylor Machine Works of Louisville, Mississippi.
The railcar chambering yard was completed in 2020 on port property south of the Intracoastal Waterway. The yard facilitates the storage of railcars and expedites the arrival and departure of unit trains of 80 or more railcars into and out of the port. The chambering yard currently facilitates delivery by rail of wood pellets to tenant Drax Biomass for export overseas. Grön Fuels, which recently announced plans to build a $9.2 billion renewable fuels complex at the site, is also planning the utilization of the rail chambering yard.
The Port of Greater Baton Rouge is the head of deepwater navigation on the Mississippi River; a 45-foot shipping channel to the mouth of the Mississippi River is maintained by the U.S. Corps of Engineers. The port’s deepwater terminal on the Mississippi is currently capable of docking three deep-draft vessels simultaneously.
Port leadership recently applied to the Louisiana Department of Transportation Port Construction and Development Priority Program (PCDPP) for a $15 million rehabilitation/expansion of its “Northern Berth” on the Mississippi River that would allow for the Port of Greater Baton Rouge to have a fourth deep draft vessel berth at its northernmost point.