As you drive past the state port in Gulfport it is hard to tell that there is a lot of activity going on to bring the port back from the ravages of Hurricane Katrina. Katrina's thirty foot plus tides and strong winds almost wiped the port clean. Now the port is in the midst of a nearly $600 million restoration plan.
Part of that plan is to increase the port's foot print so it can handle more business in coming years, like from the additional gulf traffic expected in 2014 when the Panama Canal widening is completed.
The first phase at our port of adding 60 additional acres is almost complete. Another 24 acres will be created as well. And the port will be raised 15 feet to bring its elevation to 25 feet. The height will help protect the port from future storms and provide some protection for downtown Gulfport. The ship channel also needs to be deepened to 45 feet from its current 36 feet. A process expected to take five to ten years to complete.
While all of this is going on, the port is still open for business. Having a vital state port in Gulfport means jobs and tax revenue. Building the port of the future is a long process and will take years, but it is one that is necessary for the coast to be a viable player in the maritime industry.
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WLOX-TV General Manager