SULPHUR, La, Feb. 17, 2012 – The initial phase of the expansion of the West Calcasieu Port west barge basin began this week.
Apollo Environmental Strategies, Inc. of Beaumont, Texas, is the contractor on the $3.1 million expansion project that will result in the creation of 800 linear feet of barge basin shoreline for an additional 25-30 barge slips.
“Once completed later this spring, the expanded barge basin will have the capacity to accommodate 75-90 shallow-water barges,” said Lynn Hohensee, port director.
Apollo’s successful bid of $2,117,835 was the lowest among eight bids received by the port during its competitive public bid process in late 2011.
“The initial phase includes site preparation on open-water port property to the west of the port’s barge basin and along the north shore of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway,” Hohensee said.
 “The depth of the dredging is slated for 12 feet,” he continued. “An estimated 15 percent of the 175,000 cubic yards of soil scheduled to be dredged during the expansion project will be diverted to the 12-acre open-water area and will be used in an environmental beneficial use manner to create new marshland.”
Hohensee explained that the remaining 85 percent of the dredged spoils will be piped into the port’s existing U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-approved spoils-reception area that is being developed as a future tenant site.
“The port’s long-term plan for that area is to divert future dredge spoils to elevate the 40-acre site to 11 feet above sea level, at which time, it will become a prime business development site,” he added.
Hohensee said that the West Cal Port and its tenants offer a variety of specialized services that accommodate our regional marine operations community.
“High on that list is commercial shallow-water barge fleeting operations along the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway,” he explained. “Demand for barge fleeting facilities in Southwest Louisiana has grown over the last several years, and all regional economic indicators point to a continuing growth in that demand.
“For that reason,” Hohensee continued, “our port board of commissioners has led the way in applying for the state funding that made this barge basin expansion project possible.
“Our expansion project would not be possible without a $2.3 million Port Priority Fund grant awarded to the port by the Louisiana Department of Transportation & Development,” he said.
 “The Port Priority Fund grant is limited to 90 percent of the construction costs related to the expansion project,” Hohensee explained. “The port is using internal funding to cover the costs associated with the balance of the construction costs as well as the engineering and permitting costs associated with the project.”
The port’s largest and oldest tenant, Devall Towing, currently operates one of the largest barge fleeting operations along the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, and that the company has seen a marked increase in demand for barge anchorage in Southwest Louisiana.
Located 12 miles south of Interstate 10 and just west of Highway 27, the WCP has 2,500 feet of waterfront property on the GIWW.
Current tenant activity includes barge-fleeting operations, marine construction, dry cargo barge cleaning and diesel engine repair.