Port of Greater BR

Legislation that authorized annexation of the Port of Pointe Coupee with the Port of Greater Baton Rouge could have a significant impact on West Baton Rouge and other parishes in the region.  

Gov. John Bel Edwards signed Senate Bill 180, authored by Republican state Sen. Rick Ward, which will put the Port of Pointe Coupee under the control of the Port of Greater Baton Rouge, the nation’s eighth largest port in terms of tonnage.

The Port of Pointe Coupee includes a 112-acre site in Lettsworth, while the parish has 5,000 acres of undeveloped land and nine sites certified through Louisiana Economic Development, 

“What Pointe Coupee brings to the table is more riverfront access than anywhere else where the Port of Greater Baton Rouge currently has a footprint,” said Ward, R-Port Allen. “If things are done the right way, the possibilities of what could be done could really be a game-changer for Pointe Coupee in terms of economic development.”

The bill dissolves the Pointe Coupee Port Commission and puts all its assets in control of the Port of Greater Baton Rouge. It also widens the BR boundaries to take in Pointe Coupee Parish, which will gain two seats on the 15-member board for the Greater Baton Rouge Port Commission.

The annexation brings even more impact to what is already one of the most important ports in the United States, West Baton Rouge Parish President Riley “Pee Wee” Berthelot said.

“It benefits everyone, and it’s particularly good for our parish economy,” he said. “It gives the port a much greater footprint on the national level.” 

The transaction takes in the old ferry landing which connected New Roads to St. Francisville, which is strategically placed to allow access not only to the Mississippi River but also the Atchafalaya.

“It’s an untapped resource, and it’s been underutilized, as far as we’re concerned,” Pointe Coupee Parish President Major Thibaut said. “For the Greater Baton Rouge port to get involved is a win-win situation for us because they’re better geared to working with what the port has to offer and it brings forth bigger tenant and business opportunities, so this could be a great partnership that ultimately helps us attract new industry and business.”

The open area along the river in north Pointe Coupee also brings access with less traffic congestion for transportation of goods, which makes the corridor a potential hub for the rest of the state and nation – one which has been under-utilized for years, he said.

The Audubon Bridge could play an intricate role in the equation, even after critics of the artery labeled it “the bridge to nowhere,” according to Les Cantrell, director of economic development for the Pointe Coupee Parish Chamber of Commerce.

“Think about it … they said the same thing about the Sunshine Bridge in Donaldsonville and look at all the traffic in that area now,” he said.   

The merger becomes official Jan. 1. Officials who have worked closely with the project will use the next six months to determine how they can make the most of the merger.

The merger becomes official Jan. 1. Officials who have worked closely with the project will use the next six months to determine how they can make the most of the merger.

“I don’t have a crystal ball or magic wand, but over time I like to think we can make some positive things happen,” said Jay Hardman, executive director for the Port of Greater Baton Rouge. “We plan to spend the time between now and Jan. 1 readying ourselves by preparing marketing materials and getting the word out on what we’d like to do with our sites.” 

Marketing will make the biggest difference in the long run.

The addition of Pointe Coupee into the GBR footprint will open the gates to routes 180 miles shorter to the Gulf of Mexico by use of the Atchafalaya River rather than the Port of New Orleans.

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