Port Of Gulfport Is Expanding Its West Pier - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Port Of Gulfport Is Expanding Its West Pier

Despite the chilly weather, a load of cement poured down a chute. The cement formed the base for one of the Port of Gulfport's largest expansion projects.

John Webb is the port's acting director. He said the expansion "will be used to increase our berthing capacity here at the port. It will be used to improve our cargo handling capability here at the port."

By this fall, the port's west pier will extend another 1,100 feet into the Mississippi Sound. The additional pier space will have up to three new docks. They'll make it easier for container companies to tie up their ships, and unload their cargo.

"This in essence will become our main pier for new container handling capabilities here at the port authority," Webb said.

The new pier is part of a five-year, $250 million Port of Gulfport capital improvement program that also includes new warehouse space. At the same time the port's piers are done, its tenant, the Copa Casino, should finish its $75 million upgrade. The Copa's ship will be replaced by a barge.

The barge will dock at the port's northern tip, right between the west pier and the east pier.

As for the current Copa dock, it will become a cruise ship terminal. Last week, the coast cruise ship task force went to Florida, and recruited several cruise companies.

Al Hopkins is on the task force. He said the coast group has "progressed and continue to progress in that area. I feel very good about it."

Hopkins said he's optimistic a cruise company could move to the coast within two years. By then, cargo ships will be docking at the Port of Gulfport's expanded west pier.

By Brad Kessie

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