LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Newly completed dredging off the Intracoastal Waterway in West Calcasieu is seen as a plus for business, industry and economic development. What was an area of potential waterway traffic jams is now bustling with activity.
The $2.3 million project means barges can now pull right up to the shore in the West Cal Port Basin off the Intracoastal. Explains Port Director Lynn Hohensee, "The basin had silted in after recent hurricanes, forcing barges to anchor far from shore...you get far enough out you all of a sudden become a safety concern for navigation up along the Intracoastal."
The flagship tenant here is Devall Towing. President Michael Devall says the dredging is good for business and good for the economy. "We had to pull out of here about three or four months ago due to hurricanes Rita and Ike, they really silted in the slip. And now we're bring in all of our loaded barges back in here."
Hohensee says levee construction and spoil placement will eventually provide more land for expansion. They also built concrete shore reinforcements, all in line with maximizing economic development. "We're about half way between New Orleans and Houston. And as those deep water ports start to grow, there's pressure on the shallow water barge industry to possibly move other places. We're a location here that could certainly afford to bring them in here and make them feel at home."
Port Board President Brent Clement says there's a lot of potential here. "We have water, electricity here at the port and there's plenty of room for growth and we hope that we can be a critical part of creating jobs in Southwest Louisiana."
The basin is also vital because in a hurricane it serves as a safe haven of sorts for shallow water marine vessels and barges. The project was funded with state and federal money as well as smaller local grants from the Calcasieu Police Jury and Sulphur City Council.