Someone told me that Alzheimer’s is the worst disease because you lose a person twice. I know when the second time was because of a call from the nursing home that came at 3:15 on a Sunday morning. I will always wonder, though, about the first time. Was it during my last trip to the […]
7New Orleans was founded on this day in May 1718. 55“Retired” hurricane names (Fema.gov). 1.5 million : 1Ratio of insects to humans on Earth (Auduboninstitute.org). 1967Year Gonzales’ Jambalaya Festival Association was chartered (Festival dates for 2009: May 21-24). 20,000Estimated attendees at last year’s Bayou Boogaloo (Festival dates for 2009: May 22-23).
Accurate Auto Glass: fitting and installingAccurate Auto Glass’ services are simple: they fit and install auto, commercial and residential glass.Marie Landry, who co-owns the business with Kurt Hemelt, has been in the glass business for over 33 years, and she opened Accurate Auto Glass five-and-a-half years ago. The store’s specialty and namesake – auto glass […]
Fine dining for less at Austin’s Owned by Ed McIntyre, Austin’s opened in 2003 as an extension of Mr. Ed’s Restaurants, and is named after McIntyre’s son. Specializing in steaks, the restaurant offers diners a casual upscale atmosphere. “It’s a tablecloth restaurant with a fine dining setting,” explains McIntyre, who also serves as the general […]
Mothers and daughters, daughters and mothers – the bond between them is special. Like elastic, it may stretch and strain during the growing-up years, as young girls seek to become their own persons. But inevitably it bounces back, an enduring link that daughters then pass on to their own children. Here’s a look at some […]
“Creativity is a drug I cannot live without.” – Cecile B. DeMille The book of 300 or so songs written by Richard Rowley that sits on the table in his living room is thick as the New York City Yellow Pages. Between these covers lies the opus magnus of everything that comprises Rowley; the alchemy of […]
In an effort to provide more expedient Emergency Room care, Ochsner Health System is posting “real time” Emergency Room wait times at their facilities as well as online at www.ochsner.org/emergency. This service is intended to allow patients to choose the ER with the shortest wait time before leaving home, especially in cases of non-life-threatening emergencies. […]
Interest in traditional Irish stepdance simmered for many years in New Orleans before the runaway hit show Riverdance in 1994 propelled its stature to new heights. As with so much else however, the displacement and upheaval of Hurricane Katrina derailed that momentum, scattering many of its young and seasoned local practitioners. But there has been […]
Jenny Brooks’ story is classic country – kid packs U-Haul and leaves Slidell for Nashville, trying to make it big. She released a short 10-song album, then Down in the Bayou, her latest. She writes all her own songs, and they’re cute and pretty catchy (“Cadillacation,” “Dixie for the Chicks”). Jenny sang at the Cajun […]
While the most heated talk about signings and multi-year contracts this time of year usually involves pro sports, a recently inked deal between the port of New Orleans and Norwegian Cruise Line has quietly set the stage to help continue an ongoing boon for the local tourism industry. Norwegian Cruise Line signed a three-year agreement, […]
The sign outside Chill Out Cafe’s (729 Burdette St.) Uptown dining room advertises it as a spot for breakfast and “Asian fusion,” but it’s really more of a Thai restaurant with a breakfast menu, with some updated touches to Thai standards. The fresh spring rolls are served in a large portion and stuffed with fresh […]
By the time this issue hits the stands, I hope the inspiration for this column is no longer relevant: namely the Bad Economy. But as I type this now we linger in limbo, stuck in a wait-and-see mode. Fittingly, the poor boy is essentially the poster sandwich for a bleak economy. The most popular of […]
In billboards, tourism brochures and travel Web sites, the red shells of crawfish are used as an enticing symbol of Louisiana, an edible representation of a unique place. Now, a pair of newly enacted state and federal laws are out to make sure consumers can tell if the crawfish they dig into actually came from […]
“Artisan wines that express a place,” says John V. Seago, owner of Pontchartrain Vineyards. And no phrase better describes the wines that Seago creates on 13 producing acres in Bush – located just north of Covington. His wines are much like the region – strong, full-bodied, but with a lingering flavor. That isn’t to say that some […]
Phones used to ring. They didn’t squeal, play “Mardi Gras Mambo” or belch. Bad enough your kids did that. And when phones rang, you knew where to find them. Plugged into the wall. The same wall they were plugged into last time you looked, probably in the front hall or next to the bed. But […]
Roughly 1,600 miles south of Louisiana, in the vicinity of the ninth parallel north of the equator, a massive construction project is under way. The work will take several more years and cost billions of dollars to complete. But the Central American nation of Panama expects the result will be nothing short of an economic transformation of that country.
Far to the north in New Orleans, some businesses are keeping close tabs on the progress of the work. Why the interest in such a remote project? It is because the goal is to greatly widen the Panama Canal, the original construction of which ranked as one of the most complex engineering projects in the world. The expansion of this 50-mile channel, which opened in 1914, will enable bigger ships than ever before to traverse the shortcut between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Estimates suggest that total cargo moving through the canal could double by the year 2025.
That prospect has port cities all along the Gulf and East coasts salivating. Every port director from New York to Galveston is keenly aware that the Panama Canal expansion will dramatically increase the flow of cargo between Asian countries and distribution centers in the southern and eastern U.S. They know that much of the cargo will be carried in 20- and 40-foot-long steel containers stacked high on the decks of super-sized cargo ships. And every port manager hopes to snag a piece of the action.
Gary LaGrange, president and CEO of the Port of New Orleans, is determined to jump into the fray. To pave the way he and the port’s board of commissioners have laid plans that could triple the container-handling capacity of local wharves.
“With the opening of the expanded Panama Canal you’re looking at a huge escalation of cargo coming through, in larger ships,” he says. Because most U.S. ports cannot accommodate the giant new container ships, much of the cargo will be offloaded from them to smaller ships that will carry the load on to various ports. “We want New Orleans to be one of those ports,” LaGrange says.
The proposed expansion of local cargo capacity would grow outward from the riverside Napoleon Avenue container complex, which the port’s master plan describes as “one of the more technologically proficient container terminals in the world.” The terminal was built to handle some 360,000 containers a year and more than 1,000 “truck moves” per day.
In the first stage of the expansion, the port would open about 20 more acres of riverfront land for container marshalling, and add two ship berths equipped with three container cranes.
A second construction phase would add another 25 acres of marshalling space and create a container transfer facility that would enable the quick movement of cargo from ships to any of the six mainline railroads that connect New Orleans to mid-America and Canada.
The port pegs the cost of expanding local container capacity at almost $500 million. Along with a host of other projects, ranging from basic maintenance to dock and warehouse upgrades to a new passenger cruise ship terminal, the cost for improvements proposed during the next decade could top $1 billion, according to port documents.
Not surprisingly, exactly where all the money will come from is a matter of intense discussion. Along with most other ports around Louisiana, the Port of New Orleans has traditionally paid for the bulk of major improvements using its own revenue sources. While the state supplements port expenditures to some degree, most big projects in the past have involved issuing bonds for debt, and then repaying the debt through port operations.
Joe Accardo, executive director of the Ports Association of Louisiana, says that Louisiana ports have self-financed about two-thirds of the cost of projects valued at $700 million during the last five years. The state kicked in about 20 percent of the projects’ cost, and the rest came from various other sources, including federal grants, he says.
As costs to upgrade facilities have risen into the stratosphere, debt-based financing of port growth is becoming less feasible. And Accardo says the piecemeal approach to gathering funds makes it “very difficult to plan for and build large facilities, such as one that might cost $100 million or more.”
Accardo says the ports association soon will complete its own long-range plan for Louisiana ports, and the plan will urge developing more stable and “sustainable” funding sources for facilities that serve maritime commerce.
He also says that a key to growing port business is the development of more businesses that expand commerce overall. “We will be more competitive, port-wise, if there are more businesses in the state” producing goods that need to be shipped and creating demand for materials to be brought in, he says.
“A ship that comes through the Panama Canal is going to take that cargo to the port that can most efficiently move it to where it’s needed,” Accardo says. “Other ports are going to compete vigorously for new cargo. We cannot compete if we do not have good, modern facilities.”
LaGrange says local port officials are exploring every financing option they can think of to cover the cost of expansions and upgrades. He says one idea that may hold promise is seeking private equity investment: The port might invite a private company that already does business here – a shipping line, for instance – to invest money in and take partial ownership of a cargo facility and share in the revenue it generates.
“We’re looking at it constantly to figure out the best way to do it,” he says. The port currently is studying the feasibility of partnering with a private entity on a container-cargo operation, but LaGrange says if the concept works, it could be applied to other kinds of port operations as well.