Read the Port of Gulfport's Restoration Program Description - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Read the Port of Gulfport's Restoration Program Description

Mississippi State Port Authority at Gulfport

Port of Gulfport Restoration Program

Program Description for Consideration

October 9, 2008

The Mississippi State Port Authority at Gulfport (MSPA) was severely damaged in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina.  The Port of Gulfport Restoration Program (PGRP) will use $570 million of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding administered by the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA).  This strategic restoration will restore the viability of the Port, contribute to the long‑term recovery of the community, and position the Port for future growth.

MDA engaged CH2M HILL to review previous work, including the Gulfport Master Plan Update 2007, and make recommendations for the PGRP.  MDA defined the following objectives for the restoration of the Port:

  • Protect the Port, City of Gulfport (City), and property
  • Create well-paying jobs
  • Stimulate education in the workforce
  • Plan the Port for the next 100 years
  • Leverage CDBG funds for greater return
  • Encourage a revitalized city business district
  • Produce a context sensitive plan
  • Maintain and support existing customers

Following the release of the Gulfport Master Plan Update 2007, members of the Gulfport community expressed concern over a number of the plan's aspects.

To better qualify and quantify the concerns, a market survey was conducted in the Gulfport community.  A summary of the public comments is attached for the record.

Additionally, over the past 2 months, MSPA and MDA have conducted a number of community meetings and consulted with key stakeholders to capture the opinions and concerns of the community.  The MSPA has also solicited public input through a website centered on the Port's restoration.  The issues identified included the following:

  • Better paying jobs
  • Development of an inland port
  • Transportation corridor cutting off the City
  • Blight from an elevated highway
  • Aesthetics
  • Water quality
  • More jobs

CH2M HILL reviewed the Gulfport Master Plan Update 2007 and provided the MDA with an evaluation of the plan. In addition, CH2M HILL proposes the following modifications to the plan to address the MDA's objectives and the community's concerns.

If the conceptual vision is approved, the MSPA will achieve the following critical goals:

  • Restore the Port to its competitive position in the maritime marketplace
  • Provide an effective means of protecting the City and its residents from containers being washed inland by future storms
  • Create and sustain well-paying local jobs
  • Position the Port for growth over the next 100 years

To regain and sustain the pre-Katrina maritime marketplace, the MSPA will restore damaged infrastructure, bring back lost jobs, and attract new business.  Strategically rebuilding the Port will prepare the State of Mississippi (State) and the City for the future, not only in domestic and international terms, but also for local economic growth. 

In addition, the conceptual vision provides the following environmental benefits:

  • Beneficial use of dredged materials
  • Provision for a fish passage
  • Development of a water circulation path
  • Enhancement of water quality
  • Reduction of noise in the transportation corridor
  • Reduction of air pollution through the use of higher technology
  • Protection of the view shed

Included in the conceptual vision presented by CH2M HILL are the following additional attributes:

  • 1) A more north-south orientation of the Port.
  • 2) Elevation of the Port to 25 feet above sea level is a primary focus of this restoration to protect the City and its residents from containers being washed inland by future storms. The base foundation of the Port will be elevated from its current +10 feet to +25 feet above sea level. This additional height will establish the Port's base elevation higher than the hurricane surge experienced during Hurricane Katrina (+22.5 feet) as defined by the Federal Government, providing wave protection to parts of the City. To further reduce the risk of container movement during severe tropical weather, a lashing system would be put in place to secure materials on the Port.
  • 3) Deepen the shipping channel to 50 feet to accommodate additional and larger maritime interests. It is necessary to increase the depth of the channel to accommodate larger ships. The dredged material can be used to raise the level of the Port terminal and Port properties.
  • 4) Develop a transportation system that will serve the Port for the next 100 years. The concept calls for the construction of dedicated truck lanes and adequate rail lines to connect at 30th Avenue with the Port Connector Project proposed by the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT). It is recommended the transportation corridor be constructed below grade in a depressed section to resolve the concern that the transportation system will separate the city and cause an undesirable visual impact. The corridor will include lanes for both rail and road and will be dedicated to incoming and outgoing traffic for the strategic restoration. The corridor will lessen the noise of traffic, be out-of-sight, and be easy to cross in eastward and westward directions without significantly elevated bridges.
  • 5) Develop an improved view of the Port from the mainland. The concept addresses the view shed in a number of ways. First, a vegetative barrier will be created along the Port's edges, softening the views and reducing noise. Vegetation will be landscaped up to 50 feet tall to screen the view of containers. Second, the strategic restoration will move Port facilities farther offshore and orient the Port for southward growth to reduce the perceived size of the Port from the shore. Third, between the mainland and the Port, the Gulfport Channel will be dug, creating a pleasing view, separation, and better water quality for the environment. Additionally, the concept calls for the potential construction of barrier islands to provide additional beneficial use of dredged material by creating a visual and recreational resource. These islands would enhance opportunities for wildlife, recreation such as fishing, and small craft harbor protection.
  • 6) Develop a large maritime turning basin. The turning basin will be built with a depth of 44 to 52 feet and include the possibility of two additional terminals. These turning basin terminals will position the Port to accommodate future opportunities as might be presented by others, including the cruise industry.
  • 7) Reconstruction of two small craft harbors on the east and west side of the Port to provide a safe harbor to attract recreational activities, such as pleasure boats and fishing, and a working boat harbor for pilot boats, tugs, and U.S. Coast Guard use.
  • 8) Improve water circulation around and through the Port would be provided by the proposed future Gulfport Channel. This new channel will create increased circulation of water to create a better water quality environment near-shore and in the small craft harbors.
  • 9) A physical geography and supporting infrastructure which will provide future growth opportunities.

           

The Port will successfully reposition itself in the maritime marketplace by obtaining the following competitive advantages through implementation of the conceptual vision:

  • Only hurricane-resistant Port on Gulf Coast
  • Supported by a good, reasonable-cost labor pool
  • Operating with modern, more efficient equipment
  • Direct access to interstate highway system
  • Direct access to national rail system
  • Potential future short-sea shipping opportunity

The conceptual vision created by CH2M HILL will fulfill the long-term needs of the Port and the community and is presented to the MSPA Board of Commissioners for consideration.

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