The Louisiana International Deep Water Gulf Transportation Terminal (LIGTT) will soon start construction on its offshore port concept. The structure is projected to span 2,250 acres over open water and cost $10 billion.
Developers recently secured $25 million in financing to fund the project's first "vertical," a dry bulk facility that would be used to offload cargo from massive ships to smaller ships to be taken up the Mississippi River. The port will sit in open water three miles off the coast of Plaquemines Parish and twenty miles from the port of Venice.
LIGTT spokesman and vice president Terry Easley says two designs are being considered the first portion will be constructed as a floating or stationary platform "built like an oil rig."
Easley says the concept is modeled off of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's Portunus Project. Offshore ports are designed to move terror attack risks away from populated areas, and to reduce traffic at inland ports.
"They're ready to go, they're just waiting on permits. We're using a mezzanine financing [method] where this portion will get some cash flow to leverage the rest of the permanent bank financing," he says.
Easley says the entire port should be constructed over the next five to ten years. The project is rooted in a 2008 law created by Sen. A.G. Crowe (R-Pearl River), which approved a public-private partnership to develop the port.
Skeptics, including Port of New Orleans President and CEO Gary LaGrange, question the need for the new port and whether the full project will come to fruition. Sen. Crowe said in an article in The Times-Picayune that it would allow shippers to send more cargo to their destinations via water, offering lower price and delivery times.
"No doubt this project has had its skeptics," Crowe said. "So did the Superdome. So did the Causeway."