Release Date: December 13, 2013
Louisiana State Senator A.G. Crowe’s vision of making America more competitive and capitalizing on the Gulf of Mexico’s deep-water resources has taken a major step forward –the Louisiana International Gulf Transfer Terminal Regional Center (LIGTT RC) has received approval from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
This will allow development of the largest transshipment facility in the United States, known as the Louisiana International Gulf Transfer Terminal (LIGTT). The terminal is designed to improve trade and enhance America’s competitiveness amid increased shipping demand. It will achieve this by opening up a new supply chain via the Mississippi River and its tributaries that reaches 32 states and Canada (over 14,500 miles of inland waterways), while generating jobs and reducing environmental concerns related to the transportation industry.
The terminal will be located just east of the mouth of the Mississippi River at Mile 0 off Louisiana’s Gulf Coast. Because of its location in deep water (at a minimum of 70 feet), it will be able to accommodate the massive ships known as Post-Panamax vessels that are expected to begin transiting the expanded Panama Canal. It will also be able to handle even larger ships known as Super Post-Panamax vessels currently in operation. The terminal will employ a hub and spoke system for transporting goods to and from America’s heartland, expanding America’s shipping capacity by more than 2 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) annually – with the goal of ultimately expanding capacity up to 3.5 million TEUs annually.
“This is a major infrastructure opportunity for this country. With this terminal in place, America will be ahead of the curve and able to keep pace with modern international trade, particularly as the Panama Canal undergoes its historic, first-ever expansion,” said Admiral James Milton Loy, former deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and former commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard. “The Gulf of Mexico provides an ideal location to maximize shipping routes through other ports and inland waterways that until now have been largely untapped.”
Similar to the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP), which serves as port of call for massive crude oil tankers too big for U.S. inland ports to offload oil, the terminal will be a transfer point for container vessels arriving from Asia and other regions, as well as for U.S. exports headed to foreign destinations. In support of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)’s goal of ultimately screening 100 percent of all cargo entering the country, the terminal has set its own goal to have all arriving containers electronically screened by DHS. After screening, goods will be delivered to the Midwest and other ports in the Gulf and around the country via specially designed container-carrying vessels. These vessels, equipped with cranes, require just a 9-foot draft and travel upriver through the Mississippi River and its tributaries.
A number of federal agencies have expressed interest in eventually having a presence at the facility, including the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Transportation Command, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Department of Labor. Other interested stakeholders include the Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Economically hard-hit areas in Louisiana and Mississippi stand to benefit from the development and operations of the terminal. In particular, the project has established a target goal of filling approximately 25 percent of its available positions with U.S. military veterans (and/or their spouses). Veterans often face severe unemployment rates and other hardships once they leave the military.
“This project is projected to create tens of thousands of new jobs and generate tens of billions in revenue for the next century throughout the interior of the United States, benefitting 32 states and Canada,” said Louisiana State Senator A.G. Crowe, head of the LIGTT Port Authority Commission,which is overseeing the project. “It will add a third major port of entry to America’s heartland to complement the existing East and West Coast ports of entry.”
According to the most conservative economic studies, the terminal will generate approximately 180,000 direct and indirect jobs within 32 states, of which 34,000 will be in Louisiana over a multi-year period. This also includes jobs created through a multiplier effect across a broad supply chain, as the terminal is expected to increase demand for U.S.-made concrete, steel and other construction materials.
Greater Efficiency, Reduced Environmental Impact
The terminal will increase America’s shipping efficiency at a time when the expanded Panama Canal is expected to introduce larger ships, which will hold up to four times the number of containers as current vessels. Ports that accept these massive ships require a minimum 50-foot draft to navigate and dock. The new terminal will not require expensive long-term labor-intensive dredging, which is common throughout the industry, because of its location in permanently deep water (70 feet minimum) and its ability to handle the new 18,000 container vessels. The terminal’s flexible design and initial 500-acre site allow for expansion as needed, as demand grows over time.
LIGTT’s central and strategic location in the Gulf of Mexico provides critical connections that will help vessels reach hundreds of inland waterway ports and destinations more efficiently and with less environmental impact from carbon emissions. Currently, America’s inland waterways transport just 2 percent of the nation’s containerized cargo. The U.S. Maritime Administration’s goal is to reduce wear and tear on the nation’s highways as well as take some of the strain off the rail systems by utilizing the massive waterways in the U.S.
“The need for smart solutions has never been greater as America’s existing infrastructure is strained and cannot sustain the upcoming shipping volume growth,” said John Vickerman, president of Vickerman & Associates, a port and intermodal planning and design firm. “This project represents a major milestone, positioning America to better capitalize on existing resources for transporting goods, while helping to reduce the impact on the environment.”
The terminal will increase the reliability and efficiency of the shipping process by enabling some cargo to travel to inland areas by LIGTT’s self-propelled specialized container-carrying vessels, moving along America’s internal waterway systems. It will also reduce the need for ships to idle because they will not have to wait for a berth slot; the terminal will be a world-class green-built facility.
This critical infrastructure project was envisioned by the LIGTT Port Authority Commission, which was created following the passage of Louisiana State Senate Bill 780, Act 699 – introduced by State Senator A.G. Crowe and signed by Governor Bobby Jindal in 2008. In a rare example of bipartisanship, the bill passed both the state’s House of Representatives and Senate unanimously, with no dissenters.
The recent USCIS approval allows the LIGTT Regional Center to operate as an EB-5 immigrant investor capital regional center. EB-5 projects provide foreign nationals with a method of obtaining permanent resident status in return for investing money in critical United States projects that create jobs.
The LIGTT Authority will oversee the project, which is being managed by the LIGTT Regional Center and developed by LIGTT Development Partners. The Authority includes the Louisiana secretary of the Department of Economic Development, the secretary of the Department of Transportation and Development and the chairmen of the House of Representatives and Senate Committees on Transportation, Highways and Public Works.
The project will be capitalized through the EB-5 immigrant investor capital program, along with other traditional forms of investment. The LIGTT Regional Center will adhere to strict guidelines for reporting corporate governance and disclosure information to the government and investors, communicating through quarterly reports to stakeholders, regular media releases and live webinar briefings.
Preconstruction work on the terminal began in November 2013.
Press Release,December 13, 2013
路易斯安那州参议员A.G Crowe提出的“使美国更具竞争力，并善加利用墨西哥深海资源”的展望已向前迈进重要一步：”路易斯安那国际海湾中转码头区域中心”（ LIGTT RC ）已获得美国公民与移民服务局的批准。
这一举措将促成美国最大转运设施，即“路易斯安那国际海湾中转码头区域中心”的发展。该转运码头的设计目的在于增强贸易和提高美国在日益增加的航运需求中的国际竞争力。为此，它开放通过密西西比河及其支流的新的供应链，以此触及32个州和加拿大（ 14,500英里的内陆水道） ，同时创造就业机会并减少交通运输行业的环境问题。
“这是这个国家扩大重大基础设施的机会。有了这个码头，美国将遥遥领先，并紧跟现代国际贸易节奏，特别是巴拿马运河正在经历其自建成后史无前例的第一次扩建。”海军上将，美国国土安全局前副秘书长，美国海岸卫队前指挥官詹姆斯•米尔顿洛伊这样说道。 “墨西哥湾提供了一个理想的位置，用以实现通往其他港口和内陆水道的航线的最大化，而这些航线之前都很大程度上未被开发。 ”
类似于路易斯安那海上油港（ LOOP ） 是为解决内陆港口太小而无法使大型原油油轮完成卸载而建，这个中转码头将作为来自亚洲和其他地区的入境货船，及美国向其他国家出口的货船中转枢纽。为支持美国国土安全局实现对进入该国的所有货物百分百检验的最终目标，该码头已经建立使所有到港集装箱接受美国国土安全部电子检验的目标。经检验后，货物将通过专门设计的集装箱运载船运送到该海湾的其他港口，并运往中西部，以及全国各地。这些配备了起重机的船只，只需一个9英尺的吃水深度即可沿密西西比河及其支流上行。
“这个项目预计将创造数以万计新的就业机会并在下个世纪为整个美国国内产生数百亿的收入，惠及32个州与加拿大，”路易斯安那州参议员，同时也是该项目监管委员会主席的A.G.克洛认为， “这将增加第三个可进入美国中心地带的主要港口，并配合东、西海岸港口的现有项目。 ”
此码头将增加美国的运输效率，尤其是扩大巴拿马运河后，预计将会推出可装载目前船只四倍集装箱数目的更大型船舶。容纳这些庞大的船舶，港口最少需要50英尺的吃水导航和对接。新码头将不需要此行业常见的昂贵的长期劳动密集疏浚，这要归功于其它在永久深水（ 至少70英尺）的位置和能够处理18,000新式集装箱船的能力 。码头的灵活设计和最初500英亩的土地范围，允许此码头随着时间的推移和需求的增长继续扩建。
“我们从未像现在这样迫切地需要一个合理的解决方案，因为美国现有基础设施已严重超荷且不能维持即将到来的海运量的增长，”约翰•维克曼，一家港口和多式联运规划与设计公司Vickekman&Associates的总裁说。 “这个项目是一个重大的里程碑，标识着美国可以更好地利用现有资源实现货物运输，同时减少对环境的影响的能力。 ”
这个重要的基础设施项目由LIGTT港务局委员会响应路易斯安那州参议院780号议案，699 号法案而提出。 此法案由州参议员克洛提起，由州长鲍比•金达尔于2008年签署。作为两党合作的一个罕见的例子，该法案通过两院一致通过，无持异议者。
近期美国移民局批准“LIGTT区域中心”作为EB- 5投资移民资金的区域中心。 EB – 5项目为外籍投资者提供取得美国永久合法居民身份的机会，以作为他们在美国重要项目中投资并创造就业机会的回报。