West Cal Port Unveils New Barge-Loading Ramp

A 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.