Vice President Biden Commemorates 7th Anniversary of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act at Port of New Orleans

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Vice President Joe Biden toured the Port’s new Mississippi River Intermodal Terminal today before making remarks commemorating the 7th anniversary of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act at the Port’s Riverfront Plaza.

“I’m here today to talk about smart investments we made in shaping the future of the economy in Louisiana and around the country,” Vice President Biden told a crowd of more than 150 invited guests at the Port. “Right here at the Port of New Orleans a $16.7 million TIGER Grant has had an enormous impact.”

The Port received a $16.7 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant in 2011 to build the 12-acre Mississippi River Intermodal Terminal, which is scheduled to begin operation in March. The terminal has four rail tracks and two 60-long-ton rubber-tire gantry cranes. The terminal has an annual capacity of 160,000 twenty-foot-equivalent units and a marshaling yard with 389 slots for stacking loaded containers five-high.

Vice President Biden toured the new terminal with Port President and CEO Gary LaGrange, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Louisiana Secretary of Transportation Shawn Wilson, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, and Under Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation Victor Mendez.

“It is an honor to host Vice President Biden and this group of dignitaries today,” LaGrange said. “The importance of investing in maritime infrastructure cannot be understated as we strive as a Nation to compete in the global marketplace.”

The Port of New Orleans is the only U.S. seaport served by six Class-One railroads and the new intermodal terminal will allow shippers to more efficiently utilize rail to service customers throughout the nation.

“The Port’s rail access includes 132,000 miles of connecting rail tracks,” LaGrange said. “The new terminal will facilitate the movement of marine and rail cargo, stimulate international commerce and enhance safety all while reducing the carbon footprint of regional and national transportation systems within our market – which constitutes 62 percent of the consumers of the United States.”

Gov. Edwards reaffirmed his commitment to investing in Port infrastructure in Louisiana during his remarks, pledging to double the State’s investment into the Louisiana Port Construction and Development Priority Program in the upcoming fiscal year.

“This will be the largest single year investment in the Louisiana Port Priority Program in eight years,” Gov. Edwards said. “We are committed to investing in our ports and transportation infrastructure to help move Louisiana forward.”

Vice President Biden said many people do not understand the importance of the Nation’s ports and stressed the role the Port of New Orleans plays in the U.S. economy.

“You have been the economic heart of America for more than two centuries, connecting the agriculture and industrial power of Middle America to the rest of the country and the world,” Vice President Biden said.

He ended his remarks with a quote from American author and humorist Mark Twain: “Mark Twain said of this Great River, ‘it is not a book to be read once and thrown aside, for it had a story to tell every single day.’ It is still telling that story. It is a story about the industrial and agriculture might of this great country, but it cannot be fulfilled without the great Port of New Orleans and ports all along the Mississippi River.”