Port will decide between two new expansion plans

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Plans to expand the State Port at Gulfport are evolving. Two proposals are currently under consideration and both eliminate the expensive and controversial plan to elevate the port from 10 feet to 25 feet.

The Port Authority will consider the two plans as the $570 million expansion of the State Port at Gulfport moves forward.

Joe Conn, Director of Port Restoration says both put an emphasis on deepening the ship channel and the port.

"We've always felt we need a deeper channel to service new, larger tenants for the port to grow and really be the port of the future."

The original plan called for elevating the port from 10 feet to 25 feet. Governor Phil Bryant has led an effort to reconsider that and both plans call for abandoning the controversial and costly elevation proposal.

"There is a recommendation that we delay that and go with the existing foot print at 10 feet. By eliminating elevation, we can do the job quicker and save $90 to $110 million by not elevating," Conn said.

Here's the difference between the two proposals: According to Conn, one suggests moving the two primary tenants, Dole and Chiquita, to the west pier.

"The other would be to leave Dole and Chiquita in the north harbor where they are now. That would free up all the west pier for future tenants and could bring in more jobs quicker."

Conn will make his recommendation to the Port Authority Monday, October 29.

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