West Cal Port seeking bidders for dredging project

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.

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This is a news release issued:

"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.