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Port NOLA Experiences Impressive Growth, Announces Expansion Plans

In the recent annual State of the Port address, Brandy Christian, Port of New Orleans president and CEO, shared recent successes and opportunities for continued growth in all the port’s four business areas of cargo, rail, industrial real estate, and cruise. 
In its container business, Port NOLA moved 12 percent more containers in fiscal year 2019 than 2018. This marks the second year in a row container volume grew in the double digits. With a total of 619,353 containers, the volume exceeded annual totals at any other point in the port’s history. 
To support its rapid growth, the port adopted a $100 million expansion plan, including the purchase of four new cranes to more efficiently serve larger ships. “These cranes will be Louisiana state assets that produce jobs, provide economic output and keep Louisiana among the most competitive seaports in the United States,” said Christian. 

The New Orleans Public Belt Railroad 

Port NOLA shipping containers.

In February, the port took over the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad, and Christian called it the “single biggest accomplishment of the past year.” Since February, Port NOLA cut railcar “dwell time” from an average of 19 hours to 14 hours. The move streamlines the process of arranging transportation for shippers or service providers, and accelerates rail flow. 
To support intermodal growth, which grew 22.7 percent in fiscal year 2019, the port is building a new storage track to handle an additional 400 rail cars. Storage space will increase by 50 percent to 1,200 spaces by July 2020, according to Mike Stolzman. 

Advancing the PIER Plan 

As Port NOLA advances the Port Inner Harbor Economic Revitalization Plan (PIER Plan), it will collaborate with the City of New Orleans, the EPA, and other local stakeholders to develop a new economic vision for the Inner Harbor Canal. This project will catalyze job growth and business development in key city neighborhoods, such as New Orleans East, while revitalizing the Inner Harbor and surrounding communities.  

Port NOLA also looks toward increasing industrial real estate throughout its jurisdiction. This includes the expansion of current tenants such as New Orleans Cold Storage. 

Cruising Toward Record Highs 

Finally, the port hit its record-high cruise volume with 1.2 million passengers. It is expected to exceed 1.4 million in 2020. The increase in cruises fuels the New Orleans hospitality industry as the city welcomes sea-bound travelers from around the world. Royal Caribbean will make New Orleans its home port in 2020, and Disney Cruise Line is scheduled to return to Port NOLA in early 2021. 

Port NOLA also saw the river cruise business up 15 percent in fiscal year 2019. This boom is likely to continue as American Cruise Line’s Harmony ship joined the city in August 2019, and two more river cruise ships will arrive in 2020.  

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