W. Calcasieu Port dredging project

The West Calcasieu Port has completed the maintenance dredging project for its west barge basin.

State and federal monies covered the larger portion of the expenses associated with this $2.31 million project, but $50,000 grants were received from the City of Sulphur and the Calcasieu Parish.

On May 11, the Sulphur City Council unanimously approved a request by Mayor Ron LeLeux for $50,000 grant for the West Calcasieu Port's maintences dredging project.

In early June, the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury approved similar funding support, passing a resolution a $50,000 grant from the Economic Development Allocation of the Gaming Fund for the WCP project. The CPPJ also approved a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement that allows for temporary project financing in the form of a line of credit for the port.

State funding support in the form of a $1.5 million Port Priority Fund grant came from the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development.

Additional hurricane-recovery funding was approved by the Federal Emergency Response Administration as a result of the destructive impact that Hurricanes Rita and Ike had on the port's barge basin.

Mike Hooks, Inc. of Westlake, La., the lowest among six bids received by the port during its competitive public bid process conducted in March, performed the dredging operations.

Pre-dredging work began in May and was completed in July.

Once those steps were completed, the Mike Hooks team positioned the barge at the port and began moving approximately 180,000 cubic yards of spoil material to a 40-acre spoils receiving site a short distance to the northwest on the port property that has been approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Once underway, the actual dredging operation took about three weeks to be completed - well ahead of the Oct. 8. 2009, contract deadline date.

Returning the basin to full operation capability is not critical to the port's barge services for the towing industry along the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, but it also plays a vital role to the Southwest Louisiana maritime industry hurricane-response planning.

Because of the port's strategic location on the GIWW two miles west of the Calcasieu River Waterway, the port's expansive west barge basin serves as a 'safe haven' of sorts for shallow-water marine vessels and barges in the event that our corner of Louisiana is struck by another hurricane.

The port's largest tenant, Devall Towing, operates one of the most expansive 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 SWLA.

Located 12 miles south of I-10 and just west of HWY 27, the WCP offers 2,500 ft of waterfront property on the GIWW.

Current tenant activity includes barge operations, maritime fueling service, diesel repair, heavy-equipment contracting and maritime supply operations.

For more on the WCP, go to www.westcalport.com.