These answers to Frequently Asked Questions regarding the proposed Louisiana International Terminal are provided as part of Port NOLA’s commitment to a public process. This page will be updated as the project progresses and more information becomes available. Cathy Alfonso is Port NOLA’s Community Engagement Manager. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Last Updated: March 9, 2021
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Background: Maritime commerce at the Port of New Orleans, a Louisiana state agency, generates thousands of jobs and millions of dollars for the state and the regional economy each year. To support our state-mandated economic mission, Port NOLA is exploring the development of an international container terminal in Violet in St. Bernard Parish that will meet growing demand and create more local jobs and business opportunity.
Why are you considering a container terminal in St. Bernard?
The Port of New Orleans is Louisiana’s only international container port. In the past 10 years, container volumes have doubled, with double-digit increases in 2018 and 2019, and all evidence shows momentum will continue. To meet demand, create new opportunity for the Parish and region, and to ensure Louisiana remains competitive, we need an additional terminal.
What land has been purchased?
The property outlined in yellow in the map totals approximately 1,100 acres that has or will be acquired by Port NOLA. The riverfront property transaction has been completed; we have a purchase and sale agreement (PSA) for the remaining acreage. At this time, Port NOLA anticipates using approximately 350 acres for the Louisiana International Terminal and related infrastructure – the design process will give greater certainty. The remaining property will support new cargo-related and other businesses, including offices, e-commerce fulfillment centers, warehouses, and a training center. Green buffer areas and other physical enhancements as determined by inclusive neighborhood input will also be part of the plan.
Why did you choose Violet rather than other sites in St. Bernard?
From a maritime perspective, the Violet site is the most suitable location on the Lower Mississippi River for the development of a container terminal. It has historically been used for a range of maritime activity, has naturally deep draft (requiring minimal to no dredging), no overhead clearance constraints, access to existing rail and road infrastructure, and is located within the $14 billion federal flood protection system. There is also sufficient space for appropriate buffers and opportunity to accommodate maritime-related business activity.
Initially, the Port considered several sites, including the Sinclair property in Meraux, Louisiana. Though the Sinclair tract has enough acreage for a project, navigation assessments showed that the site would be unable to accommodate large container vessels. This limitation was an insurmountable obstacle for the port.
Where are you in the process?
We have started a multi-year due diligence and permitting process to fully explore the potential for developing a modern container terminal. The assessment will include detailed and mandated reviews of all aspects of the project and potential impacts. Some of the work has already begun, and nearby residents may see surveyors and others gathering information and conducting tests. This is all preliminary work, which will be incorporated into all planning and design. Community engagement is also an important, necessary, and valued part of the process as well.
How will the community be engaged?
Port NOLA’s goal is to understand the community’s needs and concerns to develop a successful project that is respectful of the people, culture and traditions of Violet and St. Bernard Parish, and one that brings new opportunity to its residents. We are committed to a public process to build knowledge and expand understanding.
The project is subject to a two- to four-year National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) permitting process, which requires the Port to engage with the community, study potential environmental, technical, and quality of life concerns, then to work proactively to address them. Port NOLA will go beyond required engagement with an inclusive approach with two Community Advisory Councils that will allow residents to provide ideas and feedback.
What is the intended use for the entirety of the property (beyond the terminal)?
In addition to property along the riverfront, Port NOLA’s acquisition of approximately 1,000 acres in Violet referred to as “backlands property,” can support distribution centers, value-added activity, along with other cargo and logistics-related businesses. Port NOLA anticipates using approximately 350 acres for the actual terminal and related infrastructure. The additional acreage allows for enough to buffer nearby residential neighborhoods from terminal activity and also accommodate community-related projects.
What role does the St. Bernard Port, Harbor and Terminal District (St. Bernard Port) play in the development of this project?
The St. Bernard Port and Port NOLA are working collaboratively on this endeavor. Both agencies have a shared mission of facilitating maritime commerce to grow the local economy. The St. Bernard Port continues to handle non-containerized cargo at their facilities, which requires different infrastructure from that needed to handle containers. St. Bernard Parish is located within Port NOLA’s legal jurisdiction and has been fully engaged throughout the preliminary stages of this endeavor. St. Bernard Parish is represented on the Port of New Orleans Board of Commissioners, a seat that is currently held by Charles H. Ponstein.
Will St. Bernard Parish benefit from increased sales and property taxes with the development of a terminal?
As a state agency, Port NOLA is property tax-exempt and does not collect any millage to support its operations. However, Port NOLA is a landlord port and its tenants who operate on and around the terminal will pay local and state sales taxes and local property taxes, which will directly benefit St. Bernard Parish. There will be significant investment by the private partner in business personal property such as equipment, which would generate upfront sales tax payments and ongoing property taxes for the parish. This is a project that will be built from the ground up with an estimated cost of more than $1 billion, funded by significant taxable investment by public-private partnerships. Until this project is scoped, we are not able to provide accurate tax revenue numbers.
Development of a container terminal will also stimulate the local economy indirectly through increased sales in St. Bernard restaurants, stores, shops, gas stations, etc. by port workers, construction workers, contractors, and more. Local home sales and construction will also see an increase as more people are attracted to living in St. Bernard by jobs in the cargo industry.
What types of jobs and how many would be created by a container terminal?
The development of a new terminal will create many types of industry-related jobs, both on the terminal and at related companies near the terminal. These are family-supporting jobs at all skill levels, both union and non-union such as: longshoremen, warehouse managers, terminal managers, logistics coordinators, crane operators, truck drivers, storage and distribution managers, security professionals, clerks and checkers, administrative and accounting, information technology, customs brokers and freight forwarders, line handlers and tugboat personnel, and more.
According to economic impact study projections, at its opening, the Louisiana International Terminal will generate an estimated 600 industry-related jobs in St. Bernard (jobs on and off the terminal including trucking, manufacturing, warehousing, etc.) and 2,500 jobs statewide.
Within five years of operation, those jobs are projected to increase to more than 2,000 jobs in St Bernard and 16,900 jobs statewide.
What can be done to ensure St. Bernard residents benefit from the new jobs this project will create?
This terminal will create a wide range of union and non-union jobs at various skill levels. Appropriate training opportunities to ensure the local workforce and awareness of available jobs will be key to success. Port NOLA will partner with Louisiana Economic Development (LED) Fast Start, Nunez Community College, St. Bernard Parish School District, International Longshoreman Association, the St. Bernard Chamber and St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation (SBEDF), among others, on strategies to drive local workforce development programs and encourage local job hiring. Some of these conversations have already started.
Additional construction jobs will be created during a build out of a terminal and surrounding infrastructure. Port NOLA will work with the LED FastStart workforce development program to ensure local residents get access to job opportunities and training in relation to the Violet container terminal.
Port NOLA will continue to connect job seekers with industry employers and local high schools, community colleges, and universities to learn about employment opportunities in trade and transportation. Watch for Port NOLA’s Maritime Career Information sessions where representatives from local industry and higher education share pathways to careers in maritime. Here’s a link to our last session.
How will a container terminal impact vehicular and rail traffic?
Vehicular traffic study findings will inform the terminal’s design and is an important element of the permitting process. Mitigation of potential impacts will require coordinated partnership efforts of many agencies who are already aware of the project, including the Regional Planning Commission, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, U.S. Department of Transportation, St. Bernard Parish, St. Bernard Port, and Port NOLA. Vehicular traffic mitigation includes potential roadway realignments with the goal of adding capacity in the area, adding access to individual Violet community neighborhoods, and future infrastructure investments throughout the Parish to support growth.
Rail traffic will also be considered as an important element of the permitting process. Port NOLA is working closely with Norfolk Southern Railroad to ensure fluid operations that minimize blocked crossings and inconvenience to residents, as well as identify future needed infrastructure investments.
What will happen with the W. Smith Elementary School, the ballpark and the cemetery?
The W. Smith Elementary School, the ballpark and cemetery are all either contained within
or adjacent to the proposed terminal. Each has been identified as an important community asset that will or could be impacted by the terminal design.
A successful development would enhance the Violet community and ensure a successful maritime project. This would mean continuing to deliver the benefits of a conveniently located high-quality school within the Violet community, an attractive and accessible location for community recreation, and easy public access to the local cemetery. As we assess the project holistically, we will work to understand concerns and address community needs. Port NOLA envisions a project which both enhances the Violet community while promoting well-paying jobs connected to a world-class maritime project.
How do you plan to mitigate noise and other potential effects of terminal operations?
The acreage acquired for this property includes sufficient land to both accommodate a container terminal and incorporate buffers for nearby neighborhoods. Container operations are the safest, most technologically advanced, and most efficient cargo operations in the industry. The Port will benchmark the latest solutions to minimize sound and noise impact on neighbors. Additionally, the design process will incorporate landscaping and other buffers, to enhance aesthetics for nearby residents.
Port facilities operate next to vibrant, thriving residential neighborhoods in multiple locations across the country, including New Orleans, where homes, businesses and restaurants are located adjacent to the Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal.
What does Port NOLA currently ship in containers?
A wide range of products, commodities, and agricultural items are moved around the world in containers. Port NOLA’s primary containerized exports include plastic resins, paper products, and frozen poultry. Top container imports include coffee beans and manufactured items, such as furniture, electronics, textiles, medical equipment, and fresh fruit.
Some people have wondered whether containerized hazardous materials move through Port NOLA. PVC resins, our number one export, are not categorized as hazardous bulk material. These plastic resins, produced at Louisiana petrochemical plants, are packaged into bags, put into containers and exported all over the world to be manufactured into plastic products, such as cell phones, medical devices, Mardi Gras beads and other common plastic products.
The hazardous materials classification is fairly broad and includes a wide range of commodities that pose various levels of risk. Commonly used household items such as alcoholic beverages, paints, treated woods, are classified as hazardous, and Port NOLA does move those products, as well as a relatively small amount of hazardous materials used for industrial purposes. It is important to note that hazardous materials are shipped in specially constructed containers for protection. Federal regulations govern handling of hazardous materials of all types, and multiple agencies play a role in ensuring safe transport and adherence to specific handling protocols.
How will Port NOLA address environmental concerns?
One of Port NOLA’s goals as an organization is to develop sustainably and we will bring this commitment to the Louisiana International Terminal project. Port NOLA is certified by Green Marine, a voluntary maritime industry initiative and certification that addresses key environment issues and focuses on continuous improvement. Our Environmental and Sustainability department staff work hand in hand with agencies and groups such as Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, Regional Planning Commission, Living Lands and Waters, and others. The Port’s Clean Truck Replacement Program, in partnership with the EPA and LDEQ, continues to help local truck drivers replace older, less efficient vehicles with newer, cleaner trucks benefiting the driver and the environment.
The required permitting process for the development of a terminal includes an assessment of environmental issues along with potentially needed mitigation measures. Port NOLA will work with the appropriate regulatory agencies and community interests to identify and address potential impacts and will look for opportunities to incorporate newer cleaner technology.
The maritime industry as a whole has been taking a leadership role with sustainable issues. The global container shipping lines, for example, are leading sustainability in the supply chain by exceeding current international requirements and implementing best practices such as vessel energy efficiency, developing eco-friendly technologies and initiating coalitions to reduce the shipping industry’s carbon footprint.
How can I learn more about the project?