Ports & Terminals

Port Of New Orleans Board Makes Symbolic Venue Change For January Meeting

With much of New Orleans shut down January 19 due to record freezing temperatures—and resultant water system issues—the board of commissioners of the Port of New Orleans were forced to change venues for its January meeting.

Instead of meeting at the Port of New Orleans administration building, which was closed due to lower water pressure, the commissioners drove 3.5 miles down Tchoupitoulas Street to the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad’s main offices, located just a stone’s throw from the port’s Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal.

The move, while practical, proved symbolic as well, with the New Orleans City Council voting the previous week to grant final approval to the plan to exchange the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad for the port’s Esplanade and Governor Nicholls wharves. The deal, when final, will grant the city of New Orleans public access to some three miles of uninterrupted riverfront space, while the port will gain a valuable asset which will further enhance the Port of New Orleans’ intermodal connectivity.

At the close of the port’s board of commissioners’ meeting, Port of New Orleans President and CEO Brandy Christian expressed her thanks for all the efforts to bring the deal to a successful conclusion.

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“With the council vote last week on the transfer of the Public Belt with the public wharves, as well as the documents being signed by all parties, it looks like we’re on track for the February 1 official closing,” Christian said. “I want to thank everyone who’s been involved, particularly commissioners [Darryl] Berger and [Michael] Kearney had a lot to do with shepherding this through.”

Christian also thanked the port’s executive counsel, as well as Ronald Wendel, vice president for finance and administration, and Chris Bonura, director of maritime rail integration for the port.

“We’re excited,” Christian said. “We think we have an even better and brighter team. We’re excited for the future.”

Board of Commissioners Chairman Rusty Barkerding offered a warm welcome to the Public Belt Railroad team.

“It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “Get on board—Hahaha.”

Upon voting to adjourn the meeting of the board of commissioners of the Port of New Orleans, board members immediately convened in their role as members and directors of the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad Corporation, the newly-formed agency which will oversee operation of the Public Belt.

As members of the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad Corporation, the group approved a resolution to amend the organization’s articles of incorporation. As directors, the group approved a finance-related resolution pertaining to the Public Belt and Port of New Orleans.

To conclude the meeting, Doug Campbell, chief executive officer of the New Orleans Public Belt, expressed thanks and anticipation for the future.

“We’re happy this is over, and we’re happy to be part of the port family,” Campbell said. “We look to a prosperous, great future.”

A few minutes after they convened, the directors of the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad Corporation voted to adjourn.