Port restoration aims to change Gulf Coast shipping landscape
In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, resulting in one of the most significant natural disasters in United States history. The Port of Gulfport’s (Port’s) infrastructure was severely damaged or destroyed by the storm.
The Mississippi State Port Authority’s (MSPA’s) Gulfport Restoration Program funds restoration of public infrastructure and publicly owned facilities; mitigation against future damages; and long-term recovery and revitalization of the Port’s operating capacity.
Neel-Schaffer is the design lead for the program, providing a wide variety of engineering services in support of the masterplan implementation.
One of the goals of the Restoration Program is to prepare the Port of Gulfport for the Post-Panamax era of shipping that was created by the $5 billion Panama Canal widening. Completed in the summer of 2016, the expansion doubled the shipping capacity for the 48-mile corridor that joins the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
With a larger port able to unload more cargo, quicker and more efficiently, the Port of Gulfport hopes to position itself to be a bigger player in the multi-billion dollar shipping industry.
Recently completed upgrades to the Port of Gulfport’s West Pier wharf, including new rail-mounted Gantry cranes, new warehousing, and new maintenance and repair facilities that are under construction and designed to FEMA standards for structures in a velocity zone, are key to the project’s success.
Neel-Schaffer’s Port services include civil, utilities, geotechnical, water, wastewater, structural, roadway, rail, and environmental. Two Neel-Schaffer sister companies, SoilTech Consultants and Maptech, are also working on the project.
In the fall of 2014, construction began on site improvements to an 84-acre expansion of the west side of the West Pier, making room for a new warehouse with cold storage; administrative offices and ancillary buildings; access roads; and an intermodal rail yard. Neel-Schaffer designed and managed the completion of the first phase of this project, which entailed filling in the Gulf to create the expanded land area.
Construction projects recently completed include a $60 million upgrade to the Port’s West Pier wharf to support new ship to shore rail mounted gantry cranes, furnished by ZPMC.
Projects underway as of December 2016 include $122 million in site work at the West Pier and North Harbor; a $47 million warehouse with rail and truck access; and new maintenance and administration buildings at three new terminals.
The phase of building and site improvements now underway will cost $184 million to complete. Additional phases of building renovations and site improvements are scheduled to start in 2017.