May 3, 2023
MESSAGE TO STAKEHOLDERS FOR THE YEAR 2022 AND JANUARY 1 THROUGH APRIL 30, 2023
2022 was an exciting time for the commissioners and staff of the Port of Morgan City (POMC), and we have certainly started 2023 off on the right foot.
We have a major dock expansion underway, partially funded through Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) Port Priority Program, and through the award of a $10,000,000 Port Infrastructure Development Program grant. These improvements at the port terminal facility, along with announcements of record funding for dredging, have put the Port of Morgan City in an excellent position to continue our mission to provide a consistent, navigable channel 20 feet deep by 400 feet wide for industry and to serve as an economic engine for the Port District.
This message will highlight 2022 and January 1st through April 30, 2023. Since there is so much activity taking place, we will be sending out messages to our stakeholders approximately every quarter going forward.
CHANNEL UPDATE / NAVIGATION INFORMATION
Louisiana received a much-needed break from hurricane activity in 2022, and, according to U. S. Geological Survey gauge information, the Atchafalaya River remained below minor flood stage of 6’ during all of 2022 and through April 30, 2023. Current projections by the Lower Mississippi River Forecast Center indicate a slight rise in river stages at Red River Landing and at gauges on the Atchafalaya River from Simmesport to Morgan City during the second week of May. River gauges can be monitored on the Lower Mississippi River Forecast Center web site using this link: https://www.weather.gov/lmrfc/
The channel is 20’ deep and 300’ to 400’ wide to the sea buoy. The current dredging status is as follows:
· The Susan Crosby has moved over 3 million cubic yards from Bayou Chene and should be finished around August 2023. All material is being moved to beneficial use sites. Prior to this contract, Bayou Chene had not been dredged since 2010.
· Manson’s RM White completed dredging in the Bar Channel on April 22nd, having moved 5.8 million cubic yards of sandy material, all used beneficially.
· The Dredge Arulaq, operating in the Bar Channel by Brice Civil Constructors, has pumped over 206 million cubic yards over 2020, 2021 and 2022. Brice will continue to work under its existing contract until August 30, 2023. Internal work by the New Orleans District on a future contract to assure uninterrupted continuity of agitation operation for the Lower Bar is ongoing.
Berwick Bay Harbor / Stouts Pass
Both Berwick Harbor and Stouts Pass are currently without major shoaling issues. The Stouts Pass channel is showing some shoaling at the northern most turn, but adequate water levels still exist due to river water surface elevation. The Coast Guard has set markers in the channel, and the Coast Guard and Corps of Engineers will continue to monitor and survey the area at regular intervals. The Port participates, along with the Corps and other stakeholders, in regularly scheduled conference calls called by the Coast Guard for updates on Stouts Pass. A new dredging contract is scheduled for award in June 2023.
Current surveys of all segments of the Atchafalaya River and Bayous Boeuf, Black and Chene (ARBBBC) and Berwick Bay can be found at https://www.mvn.usace.army.mil/Missions/Navigation/Channel-Surveys/.
Repairs to the Bayou Boeuf Lock guide wall are ongoing. This work will require daytime closures Monday through Friday until approximately May 19th.
MSIB 008-23: SAFETY ALERT: BNSF Railway Vertical Lift Span Bridge issued by U. S. Coast Guard March 14, 2023 states that: Maintenance work will be taking place on the BNSF Railway Vertical Lift Span Bridge across the Atchafalaya River at Port Allen Route Mile 01 in Morgan City, Louisiana. Bridge will not open and remain closed to vessel traffic beginning at 7 a.m. for 5 hours each on the following dates: April 12, 20, 25, 26, 27; May 19, 24, 25, 31; and June 2, 7, 9, 14, 16, 21, 23. One 8-hour closure will also begin at 7 a.m. on April 13, 2023. (This information was shared with stakeholders through Constant Contact.)
OPERATIONS & MAINTENANCE FUNDING
When funding for one fiscal year is announced, we are already at work seeking the next round of funding. We continue to work with the Corps of Engineers New Orleans District, major industry waterway users, and the Port’s consultant in DC, Charles Brittingham of Cassidy & Associates. We provide information and industry letters that demonstrate the need for funding for dredging of the entire channel to members of our federal delegation, the Corps’ New Orleans and Vicksburg Districts and their Headquarters, the Assistant Secretary of the Army, the Office of Management and Budget, and other decision makers in Washington, DC.
Our message is that consistent, adequate, and reliable year after year funding is required to keep our channel open. Without consistent, adequate, and reliable funding, the channel dimensions will be quickly lost causing a negative impact for industries who support traditional, wind and alternative energy operations; provide for our national defense; and support our country as a national economic power.
This message has proven to be successful.
· $10.1 million was included in the Fiscal Year 2023 President’s Budget, and an additional $31.7 million was awarded through the Fiscal Year 2023 USACE Work Plan.
· The Corps provided $42.8 million in Fiscal Year 2024 Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act (IIJA) funds for Operations & Maintenance (O&M) available for dredging needs starting on October 1, 2023.
· The Fiscal Year 2024 President’s Budget included $62.5 million for O&M needs on the project. Congress will have to go through the appropriations process and have a bill (individual funding bill, Minibus, or Omnibus) signed into law in order to have those funds available.
While the river is 20 feet deep, not all areas were brought to the 400’ foot width. This additional funding will allow the Corps of Engineers to return the channel to its 400’ width, be prepared to issue contracts should we get additional sediment in the channel after high water, and to continue to fund Brice’s operation under their anticipated new contract.
MORGAN CITY HARBOR & TERMINAL DISTRICT BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
Our 9-member board meets on the second Monday of the month at 5:00 p. m. at the POMC Emergency Operations Center (EOC), 7327 Highway 182, Morgan City. Board meetings are held in the media room on the first floor, and the public is always invited to attend.
Election of officers is held annually, generally during the December board meeting. Officers elected during our December 2022 Board meeting were: Peter Orlando, President; Ben Adams, Vice President; Deborah Garber, Treasurer; and Steven Cornes, Secretary. Board members include: Joe Cain; Matthew Glover; Troy Lombardo; Adam Mayon and Matthew Tycer.
We would like to thank Mr. Joe Cain, who served as President for four years, for his support and dedication. Mr. Cain’s second term was to end December 31, 2022; however, during the 2022 Louisiana Legislative Session, terms for board members were increased from 2 four-year terms to 2 seven-year terms.
Sea Level Construction is on site working on the Port of Morgan City Terminal Facility East Dock Expansion Project. This $6.3 million infrastructure improvement project, funded in part by the Louisiana Department of Transportation “Port Priority Program”, will increase the efficiency and safety of the transloading of cargo and add another 40,000 ft2 of concrete cargo laydown area.
The Ports West Dock Expansion is currently in its Engineering and Design stage. Due to its unexpected construction costs, the project was divided into two phases, “Phase 3A” and “Phase 3B.” In August 2021, the Louisiana Joint Legislative Committee on Transportation, Highway and Public Works accepted “Phase 3A” into the state’s “Port Priority Program” and agreed to fund $15,000,000 toward the completion of Phase 3A and the Port would provide a $3 million local match.
During their April 11, 2022 meeting, the board adopted a resolution for the submission of a $10 million Port Infrastructure Development Program application to complete Phase 3B of the Western Dock Expansion project. The Port submitted an application in July 2022 to the US Department of Transportation’s “Port Infrastructure Development Program,” requesting $10 million to complete Phase 3B. On October 28, 2022, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced more than $703 million to fund 41 projects in 22 states and one territory that will improve port facilities through the Maritime Administration’s Port Infrastructure Development Program. Amongst the awardees was the Port of Morgan City Western Dock Expansion - Phase 3B Project in the amount of $10,000,000.
The Project expands the Port of Morgan City's dock by adding 1.6 acres of concrete laydown area and building an additional 8,880-square-foot platform structure to support a 440’ x 40’ wharf extension providing a total of nearly 1,900 feet of finished waterfront access and over 30 acres available for use as laydown and storage areas, with 11 acres on the waterfront. These dock expansion projects and previously completed rail improvements will enhance the port’s effort to create and support economic development opportunities in our area.
On February 13, 2023, the Board of Commissioners authorized the submission of its proposed funding request entitled “Phase 4 - Aggregate Loading and Unloading Area, Extension of Rail Spur, and Cargo Transloading Equipment” to and request $6,120,000.00 from the US Department of Transportation’s (USDOT’s) FY 2023 Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity” (RAISE). The grant application was submitted on May 27, 2023. Awards should be announced in September 2023.
During the Board’s April 10, 2023 meeting, Michael Knobloch, POMC Special Projects and Grant Writer, requested a resolution of support for the submission of an official $200,000 Community Projects application. This will allow access to the $200,000 awarded through NOAA for maintenance of the NOAA PORTS Atchafalaya River Channel meteorological stations with assistance from Congressman Clay Higgins.
Commissioners and port staff are required by the State of Louisiana to complete annual Ethics and Sexual Harassment Training. Staff members are also required to participate in quarterly Port Security Trainings and Drills as well as an annual Facility Security Plan exercise.
M-49 ATCHAFALAYA-RED RIVER MARITIME ROUNDTABLE HELD TO PROMOTE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES
On June 7th and 8th, 2022, the Ports of Morgan City, Krotz Springs, Avoyelles Parish, Central Louisiana Regional, Caddo-Bossier, Natchitoches Parish, and Red River Parish and the Red River Waterway Commission, in partnership with the U. S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration, hosted an Atchafalaya – Red River Maritime Roundtable at the Port of Morgan City Emergency Operations Center. The purpose of the event was to determine how stakeholders might benefit by establishing a freight service on M-49, the designated marine highway on the Atchafalaya and Red Rivers.
Speakers from local and regional economic development agencies, Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, Louisiana Department of Transportation & Development, Louisiana Economic Development, the Southern United States Trade Association, and the U. S. Maritime Administration shared their knowledge. Case studies were presented by established Marine Highway Project Designees. Colonel Stephen Murphy, Commander of the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) New Orleans District, and Ms. Patricia Hemphill, Deputy District Engineer for USACE Vicksburg District provided updates on projects and upcoming repairs for their respective areas of responsibility. Additionally, each of the Atchafalaya and Red River Ports had an opportunity to tell the story of their individual ports and what they had to offer.
Mr. Jon McVay, President of Brice Civil Constructors, Inc. (Brice), provided a detailed presentation about the specialty-built dredge equipment Arulaq, then we attended a ribbon cutting ceremony on the Port’s dock celebrating the “re-opening of the Atchafalaya River” through the use of innovative technology by Brice in the Bar Channel. During the ribbon cutting, a demonstration of the Arulaq, was viewed by all in attendance.
A very specific audience was invited that included the marine transportation industry, agribusiness, forestry, chemical industries, and shippers of other commodities who could contribute pertinent information to the conversation. About 70 people attended over the 2 days.
Great connections were made, and we received positive publicity. Frank McCormack, a friend and reporter for the Waterways Journal, attended the ribbon cutting and published an article about the event in the Waterways Journal. The American Journal of Transportation also published an article. We were invited to do an interview with KWBJ to discuss the event, and our staff was recognized by the Morgan City Council with a Positive Image award for hosting the roundtable.
We added a new page “M-49” on our website with presentations, brochures, media information and videos. It can be found under the Section “About the Port.” This remains an ongoing effort for the POMC.
It is important that we continue to build relationships within our community, regionally and nationally. In order to bring business to our Port and our community, it is important that we spread the news about the benefits of doing business in our Port District through networking and maintaining visibility.
In 2022, we started using Constant Contact as a more efficient method to get messages out to our stakeholders from the U. S. Coast Guard, the Corps of Engineers, St. Mary Parish Government, St. Mary Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness, the National Weather Service, state and federal agencies and river-related organizations.
We also provide updates to the community through:
· Interviews with KWBJ and the Daily Review
· Updates at St. Mary Parish Council and Morgan City and Berwick Council meetings, St. Mary Parish Council of Governments Quarterly meetings. St. Mary Excel quarterly meetings
· Presentations to organizations such as the Morgan City Rotary Club
We participated in a Flood Risk Mitigation workshop hosted by St. Mary Excel and the Water Institute, and we participated in Morgan City Rotary’s New Generation event. We regularly attend St. Mary Parish Chamber of Commerce luncheons and the Atchafalaya Intracoastal Coalition monthly meetings since its inception in January 2023. We are available and would love to speak at meetings held by any local organization.
Cindy Cutrera, Economic Development Manager for the port, was nominated to serve as a member of the new South Louisiana Community College Campus Advisory Board (CAB) for the Young Memorial Campus in Morgan City. The CAB consists of several community stakeholders who will meet regularly with SLCC leaders regarding the Morgan City SLCC campus.
We are proud to have the U. S. Coast Guard in our community. We attend Coast Guard events such as change of command, and the Coast Guard are included in any meetings hosted by the port that involve discussions on navigation and safety and security in our port district.
We have added a new page to our website headed PORT DISTRICT. Under that heading there is a subheading “Legal Description” which provides our creation and territorial limits from the La Constitution as well as a map of our district. The second subheading “Facilities Map” provides an interactive map of facilities located on waterways within our district and along our federally authorized project. As the economic engine for our district, this is a way we can support and provide additional visibility for local business.
By using the legend, businesses providing particular services can be located and identified by clicking on an icon. Or, if the user is looking for a particular business, there is an alphabetical listing of businesses. Details about each business is provided, such as location, what the business does, contact information, a link to their website, and even a photo of the business. In addition to their location on the waterway, a driving route can be accessed to the business location.
The page is live and continues to be a work in progress as we continue to gather and update information. If you are located on one of our district waterways in an industrial capacity and are not currently listed, please reach out to us so we can include your business. If you are listed, please check out your information and notify us should any changes need to be made.
We are also in the beginning stages of identifying available industrial properties for lease or purchase on our website map.
We begin to prepare in early Spring of each year for hurricane season. We participate in preparatory webinars and conference calls hosted by Gulf Intracoastal Canal Association, the U. S. Coast Guard, the Corps of Engineers Navigation Restoration Team, and CPRA webinars.
Our annual hurricane preparedness meeting was held April 19, 2022 at the Port of Morgan City Emergency Operations Center. Congressman Clay Higgins addressed attendees and several representatives from our federal delegation members attended. In addition to hearing from Congressman Higgins, attendees heard from NOAA, National Weather Service, U. S. Coast Guard, the Port of Morgan City, St. Mary OHSEP, St. Mary Levee District, and the Corps of Engineers. St. Mary Parish Office of Homeland Security hosted a similar event that morning that included a tabletop exercise for healthcare facilities. Between the 2 events, there was well over 100 people in attendance.
Our Eleventh Annual Hurricane Preparedness meeting is scheduled for Monday, May 15, 2023 at 10:00 AM at the Port’s EOC.
Our outreach beyond our community equips us with pertinent information, allows us to learn of new business opportunities, and provides new opportunities to promote the Port of Morgan City.
We remain engaged with state and federal agencies and with members of our state and federal delegation. We provide waterway tours that include highlights of industry activity and beneficial use sites on the Atchafalaya River.
During the redistricting process Congressman Clay Higgins retained most of Morgan City in the 3rd Congressional District. Congressman Garret Graves assumed the Amelia Industrial area into the 6th Congressional District.
Mac Wade, the port’s Executive Director, serves on:
· the Higher Education Maritime Campus Consortium Task Force Maritime Advisory Board created by Senate Concurrent Resolution Number 92 of the 2019 Regular Louisiana Legislative Session
· the Louisiana Transportation Research Center Project Review Committee which provides services to DOTD and others in the transportation community
· the Atchafalaya River Basin Restoration and Enhancement Task Force
· the South Louisiana Economic Council Emerging Energy Task Force
Other relationships beyond our local community include:
· Nicholls State University Coastal Center
· Barataria – Terrebonne National Estuary Program (BTNEP)
· Louisiana Economic Development (LED)
· South Central Industrial Association (SCIA)
· U. S. Army Corps of Engineers
· Louisiana Department of Transportation & Development (DOTD)
· GNO, Inc. Wind Energy Alliance
We also continue our affiliations with the Ports Association of Louisiana (PAL) https://www.portsoflouisiana.org/, Louisiana Industrial Development Executives Association (LIDEA) http://www.lidea.org/, Gulf Intracoastal Canal Association (GICA) http://www.gicaonline.com/, National Waterways Conference (NWC) https://waterways.org/, Gulf Ports Association of the Americas (GPAA) http://gulfportsaa.com/, International Association of Maritime and Port Executives (IAMPE) https://www.iampe.org/ and Inland Rivers Ports and Terminals (IRPT) https://www.irpt.net/.
Cindy Cutrera has been on the board of Inland Rivers Ports and Terminals (IRPT) since May 2012 and is currently serving as Chair on the Executive Committee.
Mac Wade is a member of PAL’s Committee on Louisiana Energy Addition Network (CLEAN).
We also have the opportunity to network with the Corps of Engineers New Orleans and Vicksburg Districts, Corps headquarters, and state agencies such as DOTD and LED at other conferences such as the National Waterways Conference, Western Dredging Association conference, the Ouachita River Valley Association Conference, and the Red River Valley Association Conference.
Mac Wade provides testimony to the Mississippi River Commission aboard the Motor Vessel MISSISSIPPI each Spring for the High Water Inspection trip and late Summer for the Low Water Inspection trip public meetings. The Low Water Public meeting was held at the Port of Morgan City terminal facility dock on August 26, 2022.
Some notable changes within the Corps of Engineers:
New Orleans District commander Colonel Stephen Murphy handed the reins to Colonel Cullen Jones during a formal change of command ceremony at the district’s headquarters Friday, Sept. 16, 2022.
February 17, 2023 the U S Department of Defense announced that Brigadier General Kimberly A. Peeples, commanding general, Great Lakes and Ohio River Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Cincinnati, Ohio, has been named commanding general, Mississippi Valley Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Vicksburg, Mississippi. She succeeds Major General Diana M. Holland, who has led the Mississippi Valley Division since June 2020. Change of command is scheduled for July when General Holland will retire from the Army after 33 years of active-duty service.
We take advantage of marketing opportunities through attendance at conferences such as the Breakbulk Conference in Houston or working with Louisiana Economic Development in their booth at the International Workboat Show in New Orleans. Cindy Cutrera was invited to do a presentation about the Atchafalaya – Red River Maritime roundtable at the Red River Valley Conference in Shreveport in February 2023.
In addition to preparing presentations, we prepare briefing booklets and informational brochures that are provided at these events.
We have prepared guest editorials, submitted copy for publications and prepared advertisements for the following:
· St. Mary Chamber of Commerce Relocation Guide
· Morgan City Daily Review
· Waterways Journal
· American Journal of Transportation
· Maritime Executive
· Inland River Guide
· IRPT Membership Directory
COASTAL PROGRAMS/PROJECTS AND INITIATIVES
We monitor many studies, initiatives, programs and projects that could impact navigation, our economy, or the safety and security of our citizens such as the Sustainable Rivers Partnership Program, the South-Central Coastal Study, Louisiana Climate Initiatives Task force, and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Gulf of Mexico Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force. We also monitor bills introduced to the Louisiana Legislature involving port infrastructure, traditional energy and green energy.
We continue to follow the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA), the Governor’s Advisory Commission to CPRA, and Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act (CWPPRA) Technical Committee and Task Force and state and federal initiatives that involve our waterways.
CPRA COASTAL MASTER PLAN
We have attended numerous planning and public comment meetings about the LA Coastal Annual and Master Plans and the Atchafalaya Basin Annual and Master Plans and have provided public comment on the Plans.
The Atchafalaya Basin Program FY24 Annual Plan Project Solicitation Meeting was held in the Port’s Emergency Operations Center.
TE-110 INCREASE ATCHAFALAYA TO TERREBONNE PROJECT
One project included in the Coastal Master Plan that has been of particular interest to our area is the (TE-110) Increase Atchafalaya to Terrebonne Project. The Increase Atchafalaya to Terrebonne Project is intended to divert freshwater flow from the Atchafalaya River, around the Bayou Boeuf Locks, to the wetlands of Terrebonne Parish.
Several stakeholder meetings have been held with CPRA, Moffatt & Nichol (the engineer), Gulf Intracoastal Canal Association, the Port of Morgan City, St. Mary Levee District, St. Mary Parish Government, the Corps of Engineers, and the U. S. Coast Guard to discuss concerns including the effects of increased flow for the towing industry as well as potential business interruption. It has been noted that no construction funding has been identified at this time.
LOUISIANA NATIONAL ESTUARINE RESERVE (LaNERR)
In June 2022, Governor John Bel Edwards publicly announced his support for nominating the Atchafalaya Coastal Basin for Louisiana’s first National Estuarine Research Reserve. On April 20, 2023 the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) held a public meeting at the Morgan City Municipal Auditorium to receive public comments on significant issues related to the development of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Atchafalaya National Estuarine Research Reserve Site.
NOAA will receive comments and recommendations no later than Monday, May 15, 2023. Detailed information on the proposed site(s) can be found on the following website: https://coastal.la.gov/our-work/key-initiatives/atchafalaya-national-estuarine-research-reserve/
A virtual CWPPRA Region 3 Planning Team meeting was held on February 9, 2022.
Planning team meetings are held annually to begin the selection process for new CWPPRA projects. Preliminary project ideas are presented to agencies at landowner meetings to be further developed and presented during the CWPPRA Regional Planning Team meetings at the beginning of each year.
In 2023, in person landowner and agency workshops were held in surrounding parishes. The CWPPRA Region 3 Planning Team meeting was held at the Port’s Emergency Operations Center on February 8, 2023.
WATER RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT ACT (WRDA)
Section 8145 of WRDA 2022 requires the Corps to work with program participants to develop a Lower Mississippi River Restoration Plan for presentation to Congress within two years. The 2022 WRDA Bill included language requiring the study to be at 100% federal cost, allowing it to move forward.
OMAR (OLD, MISSISSIPPI, ATCHAFALYA AND RED RIVERS) TECHNICAL ASSESSMENT
The Mississippi Valley Division completed the (OMAR) assessment under the authority of the Mississippi River & Tributaries Program. The primary objective of the OMAR Technical Assessment was to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the impacts of former and potential changes to the system at the Old River Control Structure and its interactions with the Mississippi, Atchafalaya, and Red Rivers. There was no solution reached in this study—it was basically a number of suggested possibilities that could be looked at.
WE CONTINUE TO URGE STAKEHOLDERS TO REPORT TONNAGE
The Corps of Engineers considers usage of our federally authorized channel when determining funding on the Atchafalaya River and Bayous Black, Boeuf and Chene. A tonnage update is generally provided in this report. However, changes have been made to the Waterborne Commerce Statistics Center system, and we are still waiting on updated tonnage numbers for 2021 from them. We will continue to monitor the situation.
REMEMBER: IF YOU DON’T REPORT, IT AFFECTS YOUR PORT!!
The Port of Morgan City would like to express our thanks to our many stakeholders who continue to work with us. IT TAKES MORE THAN A TEAM - IT TAKES A COMMUNITY to keep the channel open, to promote economic development, and to provide for the nation’s safety and security.
We encourage you to stop by for a visit or give us a call at 985-384-0850.
Port of Morgan City
Commissioners and Staff