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West Cal Port Unveils New Barge-Loading Ramp

westcal_barge_loading_rampA ribbon cutting event was held Tuesday afternoon at the West Calcasieu Port (WCP) for their new barge-loading ramp.

“The new state-of-the-art ramp could not come at a better time for our marine services port operations,” said Lynn Hohensee, port director. “Our aging existing barge loading ramp had experienced considerable wear and tear, including two major hurricanes, and was beginning to show its age. The new ramp allows us to accommodate a growing demand for the ramp services.”

The 190-acre West Calcasieu Port is located on the north shore of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway about two miles east of the Calcasieu River Waterway and just south of the City of Sulphur limits. The ramp is located on the shoreline of the port’s west barge basin.

The new 80,000-pound capacity ramp was funded by a significant grant from Devall Towing, the longest-standing tenant at the port. A 700-foot hard-surface road to the new ramp and related infrastructure was funded by two economic development grant from the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury totally $352,000.

Orion Marine Group, another West Calcasieu Port tenant, was the contractor for the project.

According to Hohensee, annual revenue from barge-loading ramp business has grown nearly 25-fold – from $2,750 in 2006 to $69,700 in 2013.

“Due to the rapidly growing oil and gas exploration activity in the marshlands of Southwest Louisiana, many oilfield services companies have turned to shallow-water barges as an excellent example of intermodal transportation,” he said. “The oilfield service companies use our ramp to drive their large service trucks onto barges at our port, and from there, the barges are moved by pushboats to locations in the marshlands where drilling activity is located.”

Growing pains along the West Calcasieu Port’s waterfront also necessitated the need to reposition the shallow-water port’s barge loading ramp facilities.

“Early in 2013, the port was able to expand its marine services to include wet-barge cleaning and stripping operations,” Hohensee said, “This was made possible with the addition of two new tenants – United States Environmental Services and TRESCO.”

“But, to adequately accommodate the new barge cleaning services, the barges needed to be positioned in such a way that they conflicted with the use of the port’s existing barge loading ramp,” he added. “Since Devall Towing provided barge fleeting support to both the barge loading ramp services and the newly-added wet barge cleaning/stripping services, they suggested that the port replace the existing barge loading ramp and position it at a new location. And they offered to fund the construction and installation of the new ramp.”

Hohensee emphasized that the new barge loading ramp project demonstrates the strong and long-lasting public-private partnership that exists between the WCP and Devall Towing. Mike Devall, owner of Devall Towing, stated Tuesday that his company’s longtime working relationship with the port and Hohensee has been “very smooth.”

“I would think there are few public entities in the state of Louisiana that can offer a better example of what can be achieved through the partnership of a port and its tenant,” said Hohensee.

New Barge Loading Ramp Under Assembly at the West Calcasieu Port

SULPHUR, La, Jan. 10, 2014– Assembly of a new barge loading ramp in the West Calcasieu Port west barge basin is underway underway and expected to be completed within a week.

The 190-acre West Calcasieu Port is located on the north shore of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway about two miles east of the Calcasieu River Waterway.

The new 80,000-pound capacity ramp was funded by a $640,000 grant from Devall Towing, the longest-standing tenant at the port. A 700-foot hard-surface road to the new ramp will be constructed in 2014 and is funded by a $250,000 economic development grant from the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury.

Orion Marine Group, another West Calcasieu Port tenant, is the contractor for the project.

“We expect to have the new ramp fully operational within a few weeks,” said Lynn Hohensee, port director. “The new state-of-the-art ramp could not come at a better time for our marine services port operations.

“Our aging existing barge loading ramp has experienced considerable wear and tear, including two major hurricanes, and has been showing its age,” he added. “The new ramp will allow us to accommodate a growing demand for the ramp services.”

Hohensee explained that due to the rapidly growing oil and gas exploration activity in the marshlands of Southwest Louisiana, many oilfield services companies have turned to shallow-water barges as an effective mode of transportation.

“The oilfield service companies use our ramp to drive their large service trucks onto barges at our port, and from there, they are moved by pushboats to locations in the marshlands where drilling activity occurs.”

Growing pains along the West Calcasieu Port’s waterfront also necessitated the need to reposition its barge loading ramp facilities.

“Early in 2013, the port was able to expand its marine services to include wet-barge cleaning and stripping operations,” Hohensee said. “This was made possible with the addition of two new tenants – United States Environmental Services and TRESCO.

“But, to adequately accommodate the new barge cleaning services, the barges needed to be positioned in such a way that they conflicted with the use of the port’s existing barge loading ramp,” he added. “Since, Devall Towing provided barge fleeting support to both the barge loading ramp services and the newly added wet barge cleaning/stripping services, they suggested that the port replace the existing barge loading ramp and position it at a new location – and they offered to fund the construction and installation of the new ramp.”

 

Hohensee emphasized that the new barge loading ramp project demonstrates the strong and long-lasting public-private partnership that exists between the West Calcasieu Port and Devall Towing.

“I would think there are few public entities in the state of Louisiana that can offer a better example of what can be achieved through the partnership of a port and its tenant,” he said.

Engineering support for the new loading ramp was provided by Meyer & Associates of Sulphur, the port’s engineer. The components of the new loading ramp were manufactured in Houston by King Fabricators, the company that constructed the Galveston, Texas, ferry ramps.

Hohensee said that the West Cal Port and its tenants offer a variety of specialized services that accommodate our regional marine operations community.

Located 12 miles south of Interstate 10 and just west of Highway 27, the West Calcasieu Port has 2,500 feet of waterfront property on the GIWW.

In addition to barge-fleeting operations and wet-barge cleaning/stripping services, port tenants also provide marine construction services, dry-barge cleaning services and diesel engine repair.

 

West Cal Port Unveils Entrance Sign

By Marilyn Monroe

Posted Sep. 6, 2013 at 9:14 AM
Updated Sep 6, 2013 at 9:17 AM

WestCalPortUnveilsnewEntranceSignSULPHUR
There is a new sign at the entrance to the West Calcasieu Port. Port Director Lynn Hohensee, along with port board members, local officials and other dignitaries, unveiled that sign on Sept. 3.
“The port is very proud to have this sign. We have never had one at the entrance to our port,” said Hohensee. “It is practical and symbolic for us because the sign recognizes the growth we have experienced over the last four or five years at the West Calcasieu Port, and it has a practical application for the visitors who come into our port.”
Port board president Dick Kennison stated that the sign demonstrated to people that “there are a lot of things going on out here,” and that the port is “a viable economic entity in this area.”
Mayor Chris Duncan agreed that the sign will increase the port’s visibility.
“This will not only help the port but all of southwest Louisiana. It will assist in the marketing of the entire area,” said the mayor, who also praised Hohensee’s work with the port.

Click here to read the full article.

Q&A with LYNN HOHENSEE

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By Bobby Dower
[email protected]

The West Calcasieu Port expanded recently to serve the needs of barge companies that use the facility. Port director Lynn Hohensee talked with the American Press about the port, its tenants and its future.

West Calcasieu Port director

American Press: What and who does the West Calcasieu Port service?

Lynn Hohensee: The West Cal Port was created by in the ’60s by an act of the state Legislature. It is a small-water port or I should say a shallow-water port. It’s on the Intracoastal Waterway abouthalfway between New Orleans and Houston. It’s located two miles west between the interchange between the Calcasieu River waterway and the GIWW (Gulf Intracoastal Waterway). It’s just off Highway 27.

It’s a small port. It’s only 190 acres totally within its footprint. We are a port that is committed to marine services. We’re not a cargo port that brings in cargo or sends cargo out. We’re really dedicated to helping out other people in the marine community do their jobs better. And basically we support our tenants who do that.

We’re a public entity. We have a fi ve-member board. The board members are nominated by fi ve different organizations and we’re committed to help growing three things: jobs, tax revenue and infrastructure development, the capital investment into growing the economy in our community and we consider our community the Southwest Louisiana fi ve-parish area.

The port has fi ve tenants now. They have a variety of services that they provide to the marine community. Our oldest and largest tenant is Devall Towing. The Devall family has been in Calcasieu and Cameron parishes over a half-century. You talk about a true, beautiful family, multigenerational, that’s in the business. They are a perfect example of small entrepreneurship doing well.

Our other businesses include Orion Marine Group. In 2006, they actually purchased — they are out of Houston — they purchased F. Miller Construction. Now the total company is under Orion Marine Group. And they are in marine construction work. They have been at the port since August of 2009. They are wonderful tenants.

Then two summers ago, we brought in a company from over by Gonzales, Louisiana on the (Mississippi River. It’s called River Barge Works. They specialize in cleaning dry barges. These are barges that ship petroleum coke, scrap iron, grains, other non-liquid-type products. They have been on board for about two years and they lease space on our barge basin.

Then the other two tenants that we’ve got came on board since the first of the year. It’s the United States Environmental Services. It’s a fairly large company. They operate in 17 states. They were brought on board and introduced to our port by Devall Towing. And they provide a service that is called wet barge cleaning and stripping. These are the barges that move wet liquid products, mostly hydrocarbon based or petrochemical based. There’s a different technique that’s used for cleaning dry barges than wet barges. Wet barge cleaning and stripping was a service that was provided previously over by Bollinger (Shipyard). When they pulled out of our community last year, it kind of left a void here.

So USES picked up that service and they are doing it out of our port and they have partnered with a company called Tresco which is a subsidiary for a company called ChemStar out of Houston. What they do is take the product — the bottom of the barrel if you will — on the bottom of the barges, they clean it up and strip it out and clean the barges up so the barges can be used for another product by Citgo or other Southwest Louisiana plants, whoever is the local customer at the time. Then they take that product and store it in mobile storage facilities that we have at our port and from there they ship it by tanker back to Houston to the manufacturers and it is recycled. So it’s a recycling prospect for us. So that’s how they generate their revenue stream.

We have those five tenants. We’re always looking for more. We’ve had to do some infrastructure improvements at our port to make the environment there possible for these existing tenants and our new tenants to grow and make a dollar.

Our port does not have any tax revenue. We have no (property) millage. We are completely sustained by the revenue streams from our tenants. While some people may find that surprising, in actuality probably half of the ports in the state of Louisiana — and there’s like 37, 38 ports — probably half of them have no millage, so they operate within the ability to generate their own income and sustain their own costs and grow their own infrastructure. Now that doesn’t say we don’t have other sources of income. We have received grants from the City of Sulphur, the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury, the state and the federal government. We have received two grants from the Port Priority Program that is run by the (Louisiana) Department of Transportation and Development and in 2009, we completed the maintenance dredging of our barge basin with the help of a $1.5 million grant from DOTD. That covered 90 percent of the construction cost and the port had to come up with the other 10 percent, plus all the cost for permitting and engineering.

As soon as we completed that in ’09, we applied for a second Port Priority Fund grant to do an 800-linearfoot expansion of our barge basin which included the moving of eight acres of dirt. We went about 11 feet below sea level and took all that dirt and moved it out. A $2.3 million grant from DOTD allowed us to complete that project. Again we had to come up with the other 10 percent for the cost of the construction and permitting as well as the engineering.

We’ve had that funding support. We’ve had some funding support post-hurricanes from Homeland Security and FEMA. That was very beneficial to us to get us back on our feet. We did have some damage out there.

But by and large, it’s a small port. It’s an open port in that it is not a TWIC (Transportation Worker Identification Credential) port. You are not required to have a TWIC card to come on our port. But there are portions of the port property that are TWIC access. We do have a security system and a security gate in place. The port is open from six in the morning until six at night. We close at night and on the weekend and on holidays, but we do have key-card passes for our tenants and our employees.

The thing about the port is that we do not work in a bubble. We are very closely in line with the Port of Lake Charles, the Port of Vinton, West Cameron and East Cameron ports and the Port of Mermentau. The six of us comprise the Southwest Louisiana Port Network. We meet on a quarterly basis, but we are constantly in touch with each other, referring leads, potential new tenants business back and forth. Obviously, the flagship for the community is the Port of Lake Charles and they are doing so well right now under Bill Rase’s tutelage. They have limited areas that they can provide support to and sometimes they run out of space or they get a certain customer doesn’t need deep water.

I’m not trying to minimize what you do, but would it be a simplified to say that West Cal Port is somewhat like a multi-faced truck stop?

(Laughter). In a very liberal sense, perhaps. We have our tenants. The provide their employers, they operate what they do there. Probably the biggest difference between us and the Port of Lake Charles is we have no staff. We have no office building. I’m a port director, I have been since June of ’06 on a contract, part-time basis. We have contract CPA support, we have a contract attorney and a contract engineer through Meyers and Associates. So, while we get no millage revenue we also run a very lean ship. Our expenses, we try to keep at a very minimum.

So if somebody was to drive out there and want to stop at the port offices, they couldn’t. Their initial effort to be introduced to the port is to call me and I operate with a cell phone, a laptop and a car. I’m highly mobile. It’s a beautiful relationship. It has worked out superbly for us because there will be a time down the road when this port will grow and expand and become more significant and a time when they may need a full-time staff support. I see that in the future for it. Obviously, it will be past my tenure. But I’m kind of that stop-gap person between what was before and what is going to be. It’s a great chapter and I’m having a lot of enjoyment. There’s a lot of reward in my workplace with the port.

We work closely with our Southwest delegation. They are very helpful in our efforts to become competitive with the rest of state for Capital Outlay funds. They are very supportive when we need legislation that needs to come forward that is beneficial to the marine community.

One perfect example is Senate Bill 122 this past session that was passed that modified and restructured the Infrastructure Tax Credit system that the state had in place previously for the ports. You had to have a project of five million dollars or more to qualify for it. In the past three years nobody qualified for it. So we were able to get that threshold lowered to 1.5 million dollars, largely through the work of the Port Association of Louisiana.

I think the people of Louisiana and Southwest Louisiana need to realize this state has a plethora of ports. You have your deep-water ports, you have your coastal ports, you have your inland ports and you have your emerging ports. All four categories are represented in the membership of the Port Association of Louisiana, which is our main communicative arm working with Baton Rouge and the Legislature and the Governor’s Mansion and everything else. These ports work very well together. … Without the ports, a lot of what Louisiana is today would not be here.

What was the need for the expansion and how has the expansion helped the port?

The barge basin has been there for a long time. After the hurricane it was in bad shape. So in ’06, we applied for funding to get capital and finally we were able to complete in ’09 the maintenance dredging. Before barges were being parked better than a hundred yards from the shoreline because it was so shallow.

Because of silting up?

Yep. Soil coming off the shoreline and silting coming off the waterway. Plus, that was enhanced with the impact of the hurricane. Once we got that completed, we did the concrete revetment along the shoreline to firm that up and returned the basin to an 11-foot depth. We were then able to identify, and we did some research, we found that this area of the state and this was in ’09 before any of the announced growth and expansion in the economy, we did some polling and there was a plea for a need for shallow-water barge basin support in our region and it was on the verge of getting ready to grow. And our main tenant, Devall Towing, had a role in our research. So we made the decision to expand that barge basin. We had the capability.

With the help of the DOTD Port Priority funding money, we were able to put that in place. We went out for bids in 2010 and were able to secure the services of Apollo Environmental Company — they were the most competitive bid, I didn’t say the lowest bid, but they were the most competitive bid — and they were the contractor and we completed that work this spring. And the final steps of expanding that barge basin, and that included eight acres, four of which were determined to be wetlands was done this spring.

One of the problems we incurred with the plans to expand were those four acres, we knew they were wetlands and we understood that, but we didn’t anticipate the tremendous cost of mitigation for those four acres. We figured about twenty-five thousand dollars per acre. It turned out to be sixty-thousand per acre. We decided to go ahead and work with he Army Corps of Engineers and at the state level we also worked with the Department of Natural Resources and we worked with the federal and state level and our port and we actually came up with a plan that satisfied all their needs and that was we took the top soil from these eight acres and actually put it into some wetlands, a water area that we had on the western edge of our property. So we took four acres of wetlands out of commission and we created out of open water, eleven-and-a-quarter acres of marshland.

David Richard and the Stream Land Services Company helped us do that work. That was finished up about two weeks ago. That all went well and we have a spoils reception area at our port. The spoils from both of those projects went into the spoils reception area. A few more shipments of spoils into there and we will be ready to put that 40-acre piece of land on the market as something that can be very valuable to business and industry because it will be 11 feet above sea level, which is a magic number in the coastal area.

Anything below 11-feet, you have trouble with insurance companies. … It’s got a beautiful berm all the way around it and it is right on the water so it’s something down the road that will be very attractive for our expansion of the port. It’s probably not ready right now unless a tenant wants to come along and help us bring dirt in there. We’re seeing some projects in the Lake Charles area now where that’s exactly what’s happening. So, it’s not impossible.

The port completed the basic expansion and we actually opened up in the first quarter of this year. The expanded barge basin area is fully concrete revetted. We increased our barge basin capacity by 50 percent. We work with the Devalls to park barges for a daily rate — we really are a parking lot for barges — in our West Barge Basin, that’s called the West Fleet Area. On the east side of the Ellender Bridge that goes over the GIWW, is property that is owned by the Devall family and that’s called the East Fleet. With the arrangement that we have with the Devalls, our total barge counts every day includes both sides. We used to have barge numbers back from ’06 to 2011, we would have maybe 50, 60, maybe 70 barges a day. We’re now almost daily exceeding 100. In fact, last week we topped our number — we had 117 barges.

What it signals is the growth of private industry and the expansion of existing industry in our region, as they grow, they need certain supporting tools and one of those tools is shallow barges for moving products and moving other types of materials. Most of them do not have the ability to accommodate a large number of barges physically at their business locations so these barges need to parked someplace else and we are about the only place in the parish to do that.

One of the other things that we bring to the table in our shallow water services is that we have the only public loading ramp in the parish where you can drive a truck on to a barge. I refer to our existing barge loading ramp as the Rube Goldberg Memorial. It’s a contraption. It has survived a couple of hurricanes. It’s there, but it’s seen it’s better days, but it’s still functional and it’s safe. But it is also located in a place where we wanted to expand our wet barge cleaning and stripping operations. So to make that happen, one is the port can apply for Port Priority Funding project to assist us in getting the revenue to build a new barge loading ramp.

Last fall, the Devalls offered to fund $450,000 to build the ramp and provide it to the port and if you want to talk about public/private partnerships and success stories, there probably is not a better one than you can find anywhere between the West Cal Port and the Devall Enterprises and their companies. It’s amazing.

We all want to talk about these public/private partnerships and how they succeed. This is a great success story.

We are now in the process of engineering that new barge loading ramp and it will be constructed and probably completed later this year. It’s components are being constructed in Houston and the Devalls have retained the Orion Marine Group at our port to oversee the project and do the installation and development of it.

And that brings us to another story of what I’m very proud of and that is what I call the synergy between our existing tenants — the ability that each provides a service or a need that benefits somebody else in the port. The Devall barge fleeting operation has been a tremendous support to Orion from time to time. It certainly has made possible that our wet barge clean barge services. Without Devall we wouldn’t have done it. So there’s a lot of synergy and interconnectivity between our tenants.

We are moving along very well and what makes our barge loading ramp so valued right now is it’s pretty common knowledge in our community that there’s a lot of natural gas exploration and drilling development going on in our parishes, especially in the marsh lands of Cameron and Calcasieu where you just can’t drive out to them. It’s not like a deep water platform and yet it’s not dry land either. It’s coastal developed exploration and in many cases the only way you can really move material and services to that drilling operation is by barge. So we frequently have service trucks, i.e. Halliburton, Schlumberger to come out to our port. They will drive 18-wheelers off our ramp onto barges and they will go out to do their services at the drilling rigs and they will come back. So we provide a real valued service for that and with this new loading ramp coming in, we’ll even provide a much better service.

And again, capitalizing on this public/private concept, the loading ramp is just one step of this because we also are able to bring in the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury and from their gaming revenue that they get, we got a two hundred-and-fifty thousand dollar grant to install a seven hundred-foot hard surface roadway that will go to our loading ramp as you come in our main entrance. It makes a more direct run to the loading ramp and it is much more user friendly for the truckers to get on and off the ramp and the new ramp will make it easier for the captains of the push boats who are moving the barges in there. So that’s a good upgrade. We’re happy about that.

Another part of our infrastructure, the Orion Marine Group just completed an expansion of new bulkheading for us in the new East Barge Basin. Had we gone out on the local economy and bid for that work to be done, it would have cost the port probably in excess of three million dollars. But it was part of the agreement when Orion came in ’09 with their five-year contract that they would make these improvements to our waterfront and they were good to their word. They did a beautiful job on it. It’s another infrastructure growth element that we have really enjoyed.

In addition to that, we do have some other needs. One of the other needs around the Devall building at our port is bulkheading that is probably 35 to 40 years old and it has seen it’s better days. It has been through hurricanes, it has been through day-to-day rugged use in the shallow water fleeting business. So we are in the process of getting the funding in place to replace the bulkheading.

Last fall we went out with the help of Jay Delafield, a local bonding attorney — he’s probably one of the best in the state — and we were able to secure three million dollars in bonding through the state and we now have activated one million of that. We are using a local bank. We have a very competitive rate and we have one million sitting there that is actually being use to fund permitting and engineering for the replacement of the bulkheading.

The rest of the money will hopefully come from some Capital Outlay money, hopefully next year. We understand we have a chance to be moved from Priority 2 to Priority 1 for next year and we’re not just asking the state to fund the project, we intend to match that money dollar for dollar so that it’s not just a handout from Baton Rouge. That money that we are going to use is going to come from this bond money and this is the first time that the port has gone out for bond money. With the help of Jay Delafield and our own people, internally, on our staff of the port has contracts with, we were able to get that done.

What are the barges mainly transporting?

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There are a variety of things. And some of these barges, it’s a pass through. Barges may come from the East Coast and may be headed on the Intracoastal to Texas. They may be coming from Texas headed for Florida. They may be coming from Texas to the Mississippi and up the Mississippi River so there’s a wide variety and sometimes they will come in at our port for a couple of days before they are ready to move on. Maybe they are waiting for another barge to be completed so there are a series of barges that will be pushed in one direction or another.

Many of the barges we have are loaded with petroleum coke, for example. As they load out with coke from our refineries and our communities, there is no place for them to store those barges so they come down and they park them at our barge basin. They do that with a contract at Devall Fleeting and then Devall Fleeting gets a share of that day rate and the port gets a share of that day rate. That’s the arrangement that we have.

The Devall contract that we have with our port that was scheduled to be up in 2017 was extended to 2037, so they have a lot of value for what the port is and where we’re at and quite frankly our port could not be what it is today without the public/private partnership that we have with the Devalls. So it’s very beneficial both ways.

Talk about how competitive barge traffic is and the capacity barge traffic has compared with rail traffic and truck traffic.

I’m sure the folks that run railroad lines and the folks with trucking companies have their own arguments on how they want to structure statistics, but based on the statistics that we received from the Waterway Council, which is a clearing house for companies that represent a lot of the business on the inland waterways in Washington (D.C.), the real benefit on barge is in two areas: one economical on how much fuel is spent on a mile per ton of product or materials moved and the other one is the environmental, the amount of emissions that are put into the air through the barge is considerably less than rail or truck that if you look at economics and environmental as two gauges to measure this, the barge industry is extremely competitive. And we are so fortunate in our corner of the state to have a couple of significant waterways — the Calcasieu River waterway and the Gulf Intracoastal Water Way. And we’re interconnected because the Gulf Intracoastal, you can move into the Mississippi (River) very easily and from there it can get you to the Missouri or Ohio (rivers). It’s very, very competitive, especially in the inner part of the country between the Rockies and the Appalachian mountains.

When you take the Intracoastal and you can go all the way over to Florida and from there you can connect up to the Carolinas, it’s very, very solid barge transportation industry and very competitive.

How do you see the port benefitting from the coming expansion coming in west Calcasieu with the local industries?

I think that the common phrase is that a rising tide raises all ships…. It truly is. We know the strength of the economic development at the Port of Lake Charles and what this is going to mean to them. When these businesses do their expansions and their growth and even afterwards when they become operational, there are secondary and tertiary businesses that are going to be needed to support them. Many of them are going to be anchored to the waterways one way or the other, and not all of them have to deep water. You can look at the growth that we anticipate will be at our port is going to be generated by companies that are going to be supporting these type of businesses — Magnolia, Sempra, Cheniere, Trunkline, Sasol.

But it’s not just the West Cal port either. You look at the Port of Vinton. It’s a small port, not an emerging port but more of an inland, small port. Dunham Price is their big tenant over there. They are just getting ready to make 350 acres available for development. They have one waterway that goes north off the Intracoastal towards Vinton and that anchors them in the Intracoastal. There’s great growth opportunities there.

You look at the mouth of the Calcasieu (Ship Channel) with the West Cameron Port. There is so much opportunity potential there for being another shore base for deepwater exploration and production, especially if we can get a public/private development of Monkey Island.

You look at the Port of Mermentau, there’s tremendous opportunity on the Mermentau (River) for the growth of construction materials and also for agriculture and food stock shipment and materials.

With the six ports around here we cover the whole gamut of what this community needs, even water for gaming vessels.

What ground haven’t we covered?

The West Calcasieu Port is tied very closely to the western part of the parish. Our board members are selected by the mayor and city council of Sulphur, by the West Cal Chamber of Commerce, by the police jurors from the West Cal area and also from the Labor Council. These five, they get a little bit of compensation for the monthly meetings, but I’m constantly in touch with them, constantly polling their opinions and attitudes and their advice. I work them pretty hard and they are very responsive and very supportive and they are a significant reason why we’ve had some success and then the rest of our staff, Meyer and Associations with engineering, Glen James with legal support, Darla Perry with CPA support. None of us are full-time for the port, but what a great team to work with. My hats are off to them.

And I go back to working with existing ports that we have in our area as well as the ports at the state level. The relationships are very strong and you think it would be competitive, and at a certain level there is some competitiveness, but more than that there’s some real camaraderie. With our six ports in Southwest Louisiana, there’s a lot of helping together. We even do some trade shows together. We’ll all staff a trade booth together.

The other thing I salute too is our leadership in Southwest Louisiana. For me and the port, it’s primarily the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury and the leadership they’ve demonstrated, the mayor and City Council of Sulphur, as well as the (legislative) delegation of Southwest Louisiana that carries our banner for us to Baton Rouge. And I don’t want to overlook our federals — I work very closely with Mark Herbert from Sen. Mary Landrieu, Brooke David for Sen. (David) Vitter and Joe Hill for Congressman (Charles) Boustany. Tremendous support I get from them to help grow our port.

West Calcasieu Port Rotary Presentaion

West Calcasieu Port: What do you know?
“We’re a pretty good secret,” Hohensee laughed knowingly, “but with informative programs like these, we hope to change that.”

By SUSAN LAFARGUE [email protected]
Feb. 4, 2013 10:30 am

President of West Calcasieu Port Board, Dick Kennison (left) is pictured with Lynn E. Hohensee, owner and operator of LEH Communications, LLC. Hohensee has served as West Calcasieu Port director since June 2006. Hohensee spoke at the Jan. 23 meeting of the Sulphur Rotary Club.

Southwest Daily News – Sulphur, LAWest Calcasieu Port Director Lynn Hohensee recently updated the Rotary Club of Sulphur on what’s happening at the port these days.

President of West Calcasieu Port Board, Rotarian Dick Kennison, introduced Hohensee, owner and operator of LEH Communications, LLC. He has served as West Calcasieu Port director since June 2006. Hohensee gave Rotarians an informative talk about the port. First he asked,”Does anyone here know about the West Cal Port and what we do? Has anyone been out there?” There were not many hands up.

“We’re a pretty good secret,” Hohensee laughed knowingly, “but with informative programs like these, we hope to change that.”

First of all, the West Cal Port is not a deep water port; it’s not a cargo port; it’s a shallow water port and the focus is on being a service port to the maritime community.

“Our mission is dedicated to growing the business community for public energy. Our success is how well our tenants succeed and how well we can attract new tenants. The more the port grows the better the economic community benefits from jobs, tax base, real estate and more.”

Secondly, where is the port located exactly?

“It is strategically located halfway between New Orleans and Houston on the intercostal waterway. I say strategically because truly that is a location that keeps us between two incredibly large, very productive ports along the Gulf Coast,” Hohensee said.

Driving directions to the port are: travel south from Sulphur on Hwy 27; right before Ellender Bridge, turn right and drive through a residential area to arrive at the entrance to the port.

West Cal Port is funded in several ways, but it really costs the tax payer nothing. No tax millage is levied for the support of the port. All income comes from tenants, grants and individual donations. Because West Cal Port has no full time employees and no office, costs can be cut.

Present tenants are DeVall Enterprises, an established company towing since 1970s, F. Miller Construction and River Barge Works.

The port has received six grants. Four mentioned were two from the Department of Transportation and Development to expand the port, one from the City of Sulphur and one from the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury. No individual donations were noted. The port was described as a public/private Cooperative Service

Hohensee emphasized that wetlands were protected during the port’s recent expansion. He was pleased to say that negotiations were made with the Department of Natural Resources and the Corps of Engineers to offset the cost of mitigation of wetlands needed for expansion plan. Twelve new acres of marshland were created in the expansion work which actually tripled the size of marshland in that area.

West Cal Port is an economic advantage to our area.

“A lot of growth that does come in a growing area like ours, and a lot of needs. One of the needs is shallow water barge transportation support. That comes right down our ally. We are really a parking lot for barges.

“We’re going to grow this thing. We have the only loading ramp where one can load a truck onto a barge. Now we’re in process of adding a second ramp with a new road. River Barge Works cleans open and closed dry barges and this needed service is necessary for the port to grow and is a recent addition. Last year, we started wet barge cleaning as well. 2012 was the best year we’ve ever enjoyed at our port,” Hohensee concluded.

Hohensee ended his program with a short commercial noting the benefits of all southwest Louisiana ports and proposed that 2013 would be another great year.

Editor’s Note: There are six ports in the Southwest Louisiana Port Network: Port of Lake Charles (11th largest port in the nation), Port of Vinton, West Cameron Port, East Cameron Port, and Port of Mementau.

West Calcasieu Port Director Lynn Hohensee recently updated the Rotary Club of Sulphur on what’s happing at the port these days.

President of West Calcasieu Port Board, Rotarian Dick Kennison, introduced Hohensee, owner and operator of LEH Communications, LLC. He has served as West Calcasieu Port director since June 2006. Hohensee gave Rotarians an informative talk about the port. First he asked,”Does anyone here know about the West Cal Port and what we do? Has anyone been out there?” There were not many hands up.

Hohensee ended his program with a short commercial noting the benefits of all southwest Louisiana ports and proposed that 2013 would be another great year.

Editor’s Note: There are six ports in the Southwest Louisiana Port Network: Port of Lake Charles (11th largest port in the nation), Port of Vinton, West Cameron Port, East Cameron Port, and Port of Mementau.

2012 International Workboat Show Recognizes WCP for Environmental Stewardship

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The West Calcasieu Port (WCP) value for environmental stewardship during its recently completed west barge basin expansion project was recognized by the International Workboat Show in New Orleans in December 2012.

“The show directors annually sponsor an environmental awards competition, and in December, the West Cal Port was named a finalist in the competition,” said Lynn Hohensee, port director. “While we did not receive the coveted top award, the attention that the port received from throughout the maritime community has been impressive.”

Following the tradeshow, Tim Osborn, National Ocean & Atmospheric Administration made the following statement: “Congratulations on the recognition and the collaboration that saw the (West Cal Port’s) improvements to the area to serve the coastal communities and increase jobs and industry to the area but also to create coastal wetlands to improve the coastal habitats to the area that have seen real challenges.

“Ports like yours that are moving forward with a focus on serving the local, state and national economy as well as being an environmental steward are key elements achieving goals in improving and growing jobs and creating new infrastructure and also putting coastal habitats into the planning and growth of the port as well.”

The WCP is a 190-acre shallow-water port on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway in Southwest Louisiana and strategically located about half way between Houston and New Orleans. The port’s tenants provide a variety of marine-related services critical to commerce associated with inland waterway transportation, including barge fleeting, marine construction, diesel engine repair, dry-barge cleaning and wet-barge stripping and cleaning.

Pressured to expand its barge fleeting capacity to meet the growing regional need for shallow-water barge support (est. $42 billion in five-parish private capital investment projects in next five years), the WCP board of directors authorized in 2009 the $3,132,000 expansion of the port’s west barge basin to increase its barge-anchoring capacity by 50 percent. The following year, the Louisiana Legislature approved a $2,376,000 Port Priority Fund grant (through the Louisiana Department of Transportation & Development) to offset 90 percent of the project’s construction costs.

Following nearly 18 months of federal and state regulatory review, the port’s barge basin expansion project was cleared to begin. A construction contract was awarded in the spring of 2012 to Apollo Environmental of Beaumont, Texas, and work began shortly thereafter. The expansion project for the port’s west barge basin now is nearing completion.

The complex package of environmental benefits related to the barge basin expansion project is much like the culinary pleasure associated with the peeling of an artichoke during dinner – the more one delves into the details of the project, the more one develops a greater appreciation of how the construction of the barge basin and the resulting operation of the barge basin is positioned to demonstrate an array of examples of enhance maritime environmental stewardship.

At the outset, the initial planning for the barge basin expansion project focused not only on the economic development aspects, but also on the fact that transporting freight/cargo by water is an energy-efficient mode when compared to rail and truck. Barges can move one ton of cargo 576 miles per gallon of fuel. A rail car would move the same ton of cargo 413 miles and a truck only 155 miles.

Also, inland barges generate less carbon dioxide while transporting America’ cargoes, according to the Waterways Council. In terms of CO2 produced per ton of cargo moved, inland barges have a significant advantage over trains and trucks. One 15-barge tow equals 216 rail cars or 1,050 18-wheel truck transports.

Once the project survived a multi-layered approval process that included the WCP board of commissioners, the Louisiana DOTD and the Louisiana Legislature, the port had to secure an Army Corps of Engineers Permit (Section 404), a Coastal Use Permit from the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, and a Water Quality Certificate from the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality. It was during this lengthy, time-consuming state and federal permitting process that an additional environmental stewardship concept was incorporated into the port’s barge basin expansion project.

The “heart” of the expansion project was the removal of eight acres of land to create an additional 800 linear feet of shoreline “parking space” for shallow-water barges – an effort that encompassed the removal of 175,000 cubic yards of soil. More than four of these eight acres was deemed valued wetlands – thus, the need to factor in a mitigation step to offset the loss of these wetlands.

Mitigation – as described by the LDNR on its website — is all actions taken to avoid, minimize, restore and compensate for loss of ecological values due to an activity. The Rules and Regulations for Permits & Mitigation promulgated as part of the Louisiana Coastal Resources Program require compensatory mitigation for impacts to vegetated wetlands in the Louisiana Coastal Zone. These requirements state that the LDNR Secretary shall not grant a Coastal Use Permit for an individual activity unless authorization is conditioned to include a requirement for compensatory mitigation to offset any net loss of wetland ecological value that is anticipated to occur.

One form of mitigation recognized by the LDNR is compensatory mitigation — replacement, substitution, enhancement, or protection of ecological values to offset anticipated losses of ecological value caused by a permitted activity. The LDNR Secretary considers recommendations of state and federal agencies and parishes with approved local programs when selecting compensatory mitigation.

Examples of compensatory mitigation options recognized by the LDNR include:

· OCM-approved mitigation bank/area credits

· Advanced mitigation credits

· Implementation of individual mitigation measure

· Monetary contribution to the affected landowner or affected parish to implement an approved compensatory mitigation plan and/or to the Louisiana Wetlands Conservation & Restoration Fund

· Other options determined to be appropriate by the LDNR Secretary which fully compensate for lost habitat values.

Networking with the LDNR’s Assistant Secretary for Coastal Management, the port was able to incorporate into the barge basin expansion master plan an environmental beneficial use strategy for the dredged spoils that would be created. This strategy ultimately was approved at all state and federal levels and included the relocation of the topsoil of the area to be dredged to an open-water area on the west end of the port’s property footprint and along the north shore of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.

As a result of the collaboration with state and federal agency officials, the port modified its master plan to include the relocation of 15 percent of its dredged spoils to the western area of the port’s property where 11.25 acres of virgin marshland are being created. This step of the project has been completed; the dredged topsoil spoils – complete with its native vegetation components – are now in place and ready for auxiliary vegetation planting efforts – a step best suited for cooler winter months during the first quarter of 2013.

The port’s barge basin expansion project also features two additional examples of beneficial use of the spoils generated by the dredging operations.

Once the port’s master plan for the project was modified to include use of 15 percent of the dredge spoils for environmental beneficial use, the port’s plan called for virgin clay soil (discovered as an underlying component of the expansion area by geotechnical testing) to be excavated and used to create a supportive berm around the newly created marshland and to reinforce the levee that surrounds the port’s spoils reception area – a 40-acre area approved by the US Army Corps of Engineers. This step consumed a sizeable portion of the remaining 85 percent (148,750 cubic yards) not used for the environmental beneficial use. The final dredge spoils are currently being piped into the port’s spoils reception area. The long-term plan for the spoils reception area is to become a site suitable for growth space for tenants at an elevation of 11 feet above sea level – a highly sought-after development site along the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.

During the early days of the construction, excavation of the topsoil from the area to be dredged to a temporary location with the spoils reception area was one of the first steps. The contractor then began to excavate the seam of virgin clay soil for the needed reinforcement of the existing levee encompassing the port’s spoils reception area. Following the construction of a berm to keep the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway water from entering into the construction site; the virgin clay was removed using heavy excavation equipment and transported to the levee that surrounds the port’s nearby spoils reception area.

It is important to recognize that while the scope of this construction project is not ranked among the most impressive maritime construction projects in terms of cost or impact, it is a project critical to the viability of a small shallow-water port that has no tax millage support and depends solely on a revenue stream generated by its valued tenants. As a public entity created by the Louisiana Legislature in 1964, the port’s board of commissioners envisions the port as an economic development engine with a mission to facilitate the growth of private maritime-related business and industry while ensuring the highest environmental stewardship standards possible.

Barge Basin Expansion Work Begins at the West Calcasieu Port

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.

West Calcasieu Port Awards Contractor Contract for Barge Basin Expansion Project

SULPHUR, La, Dec. 7, 2011 – The West Calcasieu Port board of commissioners voted this week to award the contract for the expansion dredging of the port’s west barge basin to.Apollo Environmental Strategies, Inc. of Beaumont, Texas.

The successful bid of $2,117,835 was the lowest among eight bids received by the port during its competitive public bid process.

“The West Cal Port board of commissioners was encouraged to have received such a large number of bid packets for the project,” said Matt Vincent, president of the West Calcasieu Port board. “The commissioners were equally impressed with the quality of the contractors that were interested in the port’s project and spent a considerable amount of time reviewing all of the data and information included in the packets.”

Lynn Hohensee, WCP director noted that the West Calcasieu Port will work closely with local, state and federal officials to make sure that all dredging operations are in line with regulatory permits for the project and that an aggressive time schedule is followed for the barge basin expansion dredging.

“The West Cal Port and its tenants offer a variety of specialized services within the marine operations community, and high on that list is commercial shallow-water barge fleeting operations along the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway,” he said. “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,” he continued, “our port board of commissioners have led the way in securing the necessary state funding support to expand our existing barge basin by approximately 800 linear feet to accommodate an additional 25-30 barges.”

Hohensee noted that when the expansion of the basin located on the north shore of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway is completed, it will have a capacity to accommodate 75 to 90 barges.

WCP Engineer Chuck Stutes with Sulphur-based Meyer & Associates has estimated that approximately 175,000 cubic yards of spoil will be dredged to accommodate the expansion of the barge basin.  The depth of the dredging is slated for 12 feet.

The dredged spoils will be used for environmental beneficial use as well as economic beneficial use.

“Approximately 15 percent of the spoils will be piped to an existing open water area on the west end of the port’s property where it will be distributed to create 12 acres of new marshland,” Hohensee said.  “The remainder of the spoils will be piped to the port’s existing U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-approved 40-acre spoils reception area.

“Our long-term plan for that area is to use 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 explained.

Hohensee noted that 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.

Significant funding support will come from a $2.3 million Port Priority Fund grant awarded to the port by the Louisiana Department of Transportation & Development.

“The Port Priority Fund grant is limited to 90 percent of the construction costs related to the expansion project,” Hohensee said.  “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.”

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.

West Cal Port Seeking Bidders for Dredging Project

Posted: Oct 24, 2011 10:35 AM CDT Updated: Oct 24, 2011 5:35 PM CDT

By Theresa Schmidt – bio
The West Cal Port is seeking bids for dredging that, once complete, will allow for expansion.

It’s not always easy to find a parking space– especially when you are looking for a spot to park a big barge. But the West Cal Port is adding slots in a project good for the economy and the environment.

Compared to the Port of Lake Charles,  the West Calcasieu Port is small. Yet the 190 acre port is strategically located between New Orleans and Houston on the Intracoastal Waterway. And Port Director Lynn Hohensee says the expansion plan creates potential. “We have an opportunity to see this as a catalyst for the growth of jobs, growth of industrial tax base, and also the growth of business.”

The port has received a $2.3 million grant from the State Department of Transportation and Development. That, along with a local match, will be used for expansion dredging of the port’s west barge basin. Said Hohensee, “With this money we are going to expand our existing barge basin by about twenty five to thirty slips to accommodate more barges. This is about 800 linear feet of shoreline.”

Hohensee says the material dredged will be used to create about twelve acres of new marsh–which helps offset damage from erosion and hurricanes.. And help build up land they can one day use for more tenants. “It’s about a forty acre site that’s all levied off and as we continue to put our spoils in there we are building up hopefully, at some point in time down the road, to about eleven foot above sea level elevation which will make it prime business development property on the Intracoastal Waterway here in Southwest Louisiana.”

They plan to open bids November 16th and hope there will be some dredging underway before the end of the year.

Including the local contribution,  it’s a project of more than three million dollars. Any potential bidders who want more information should contact Meyer and Associates.

 

West Calcasieu Port Begins Bidding Process

“The West Cal Port will begin advertising …in local and state publications to alert maritime excavation contractors and other interested parties that we are seeking qualified, competitive bids for the dredging project,” said West Calcasieu Port Director Lynn Hohensee.  “The bids will be formally opened on Nov. 16, 2011.”

“Incorporated in this dredging project plan is the transfer of a portion of the dredged spoils in an environmentally beneficial manner to create between 11 and 12 acres of new marshland in open water on the port’s property,” he added.  “Finding an environmentally beneficial use for the dredged material helps offset damage inflicted on our port property by hurricanes and other coastal erosion conditions – a situation that has become more prevalent in Southwest Louisiana coastal areas over the past several years.”

Underscoring the business-case need for the expanded barge basin, Hohensee noted that servicing commercial barge transportation operations along the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway is a critical component of the port’s operations, and that the port has experienced an increased occupancy rate for its barge basin facilities.

“In addition to increased barge fleeting demand at the West Cal Port in 2011, we also are anticipating an even-larger demand for fleeting services and barge-parking space in Southwest Louisiana as our regional industrial base continues to grow,” Hohensee added.

Hohensee noted that the port’s board of commissioners is anxious to attract qualified contractors through the port’s competitive bidding process during the month of November, a timeframe required by state law.

“We then will identify the most competitive proposal from a qualified bidder as soon as possible so that we can begin the barge basin expansion project before year’s end,” he added

West Cal Port Engineer Chuck Stutes of Sulphur-based Meyer & Associates, Inc. has estimated that approximately 175,000 cubic yards of spoil will need to be dredged in order to expand the port’s west barge basin by 800 linear feet – enough space to accommodate an additional 25-30 barges.  Dredging of the eight-acre area will be completed to an approximate depth of 12 feet.

“The dredged spoils will be deposited at two locations on port property,” explained Hohensee.  “While most of the spoils will be relocated by pipeline to a 40-acre spoils-reception area at the port that has been approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, approximately 15 percent of the soil will be piped to a shallow open-water area on the west end of the port property.”

Hohensee explained that the WCP’s longest-standing tenant, Devall Towing, currently operates one of the largest barge fleeting operations along the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, and that demand for quality barge docking space is essential if the company is to meet growing demand for shallow-water maritime transportation in Southwest Louisiana.

Significant funding support will come from a $2.3 million Port Priority Fund grant from the Louisiana Department of Transportation & Development.

“The state grant will cover 90 percent of the construction costs associated with the barge basin expansion project,” Hohensee said.  “The port is responsible for the remaining 10 percent of the construction costs and all of the expenses associated with engineering and permitting requirements.”

Located on 190 acres 12 miles south of Interstate 10 just west of Highway 27, the West Cal Port has 2,500 feet of waterfront property on the GIWW.

Current tenant activity includes barge operations, dry-cargo barge cleaning, diesel engine repair, heavy-equipment contracting and maritime construction operations.

Potential bidders seeking additional information on the port’s dredging project are encouraged to contact Meyer & Associates (337-625-8353) for copies of bid documents.