Port of LC upgrades security & safety with new gate - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Port of Lake Charles upgrades security, safety with new gate

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The Port of Lake Charles is among the 15 most active in the country.

Port officials said they anticipate more business, and the construction of a new gate not only brings the Port up to TWIC standards but also offers a big boost to security and safety.

"This gate is very symbolic of what we would like to call the gateway that leads us international. This is the gateway to the world that we can bring product in and out of the Port of Lake Charles," said John LeBlanc, Port of Lake Charles Board Chairman.

The gate will open to traffic to the Port Dock Facility Tuesday morning.

The project includes $4 million in infrastructure upgrades. The addition of two new rail loops will also help move product.

"Although not all cargo is going forward, we hope to attract new cargo in the near future, and this will be a big part of doing so," said Port Executive Director Bill Rase.

While there are hidden security features, the most visible change for drivers of 18-wheelers coming in and out of the facility will be the safety factor. No longer will they have to negotiate a sharp turn of Sallier Street and another sharp turn into the old gates. With the new gate drivers have a straight shot down Sallier to their destination.

"We needed to modernize and keep up with what we need to do. Sometimes (truck drivers) would not negotiate the turns and it wasn't good. Plus, with the TWIC requirements we had to have additional parking for a variety of trucks anyway," Rase said.

The additional parking is in front of the Port's new command center, which is expected to open in late February or early March 2014.

The Port will also be getting new administrative offices, but the bidding process won't start until June 2014 and construction isn't expected to start until a year to year and a half after that.

The Port's old administrative offices are being converted into a new headquarters for Customs and Boarder Patrol.

The Port board also approved the 2014 budget. They project $32.8 million in operation revenues — an increase of more than $800,000 from 2013. They also project $275 million in anticipated projects over the next five years, which $56.5-milllion of that was approved on Monday night.

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