Hohensee said the $1.6 million project would not have been possible without the Southwest Louisiana delegation’s assistance in securing the grant monies.

bulkheadproject

By Heather Regan-White

The replacement of bulkhead infrastructure is underway this week at the West Calcasieu Port, courtesy of $1,305,000 in capital outlay grant monies from the state.

Port Director Lynn Hohensee told the Daily News in an interview that improvements to the 40-year-old bulkhead on the port’s waterfront along the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway are “critical to the port in its efforts as an economic development engine to assist our family of tenants grow their operations, expand their workforce, and increase their investment in our community through a larger tax base.”

Hohensee said the $1.6 million project would not have been possible without the Southwest Louisiana delegation’s assistance in securing the grant monies.

“I also want to acknowledge the strong and dedicated cooperation we received from Rene Becnel, project manager-architect, in Sulphur-native Mark Moses’ Facility Planning and Control office in Baton Rouge,” he said. “His expertise and professionalism made the whole Legislative capital outlay grant-funding process run very smoothly.”

In April, the port awarded the job contract to Orion Marine Group. Engineering support was provided by Sulphur-based Meyer & Associates. Hohensee said it took several months to order and receive necessary supplies before work could begin in August. Completion is expected in early fall, barring weather delays.

Hohensee said that in addition to Devall Towing fleeting operations of more than 100 barges per day, the port’s waterfront is also home to marine construction operations, wet barge cleaning and stripping operations and dry-barge cleaning and repair facilities. He said that Devall Towing anticipates that by 2020, Southwest Louisiana will see its regional demand for barge fleeting space expand to more than 200 barges per day.

“At the West Cal Port, we are doing all we can to help meet that growing demand — not only to provide a place to ‘park’ barges, but also to service them,” said Hohensee. He said the new infrastructure will play another very important role critical to the region’s welfare in enhancing the port’s ability to serve as a “safe harbor” for shallow-water maritime vessels during times of violent tropical weather conditions, including hurricanes.

“The port facilities played a crucial role in assisting marine traffic along the GIWW 11 years ago during Hurricane Rita and again a few years later when Hurricane Ike skirted our coastline but delivered a Category 5 surge into our region,” said Hohensee. “We plan on playing an equally critical role during future challenging weather conditions that will impact the water-borne movement of goods and supplies in Southwest Louisiana.”