New Orleans Public Belt Railroad Resumes Regular Service
New Orleans The Port of New Orleans is bustling again as nine ships, including four container vessels, are scheduled to call on the port this week. The total is nearly double the activity the port’s docks experienced last week.
Cargoes mainly include steel, plywood and containers coming into the port and leaving for all corners of the world. The Mediterranean Shipping Company’s 965-foot Emma, a container vessel, will arrive Tuesday, followed by CP Ships’ Explorer and Discoverer, both 850-foot container vessels, set to arrive Tuesday and Wednesday. CP Ships’ Achiever, which is 885-foot-long container vessel, is scheduled to arrive Friday.
Stevedores P&O Ports, Coastal Cargo Company, Empire Stevedoring and Pacorini are all slated to work multiple ships in the next two weeks.
“All of the hard work put in by the entire port community in the days following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita is paying off remarkably surprising dividends,” said Gary LaGrange, the port’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “We have met all of our goals and benchmarks we set to get the port back up and running.”
One step in the process is the resumption of regular services by the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad to five of the six Class-One railroads that normally operate in New Orleans. The NOPB provides access from the six rail-lines to Port facilities. Jim Bridger, NOPB’s general manager, said 70 percent of the railroad’s lines and interchanges have been operable since Sept. 12, but that number increased to 90 percent today with the reopening of service from Poland Avenue to France Road.
The only portion of the railroad out of service is north of Florida Avenue to Almonaster Avenue in New Orleans East and service to CG Railway, a rail-on-ship ferry service that can transport up to 25,000 rail cars a year between New Orleans and Coatzacoalcos, Mexico. Bridger said several feet of water still hamper the rebuilding process to provide access north of Florida Avenue and it could take eight weeks to repair.
In other news, living quarters aboard Maritime Administration vessels are still available for port staff, stevedores, longshoremen, truck drivers or other members of the port community anxious to get back to work. The majority of the berths are aboard the Wright docked at the Henry Clay
Avenue Wharf. Anyone working in the New Orleans maritime industry interested in reserving space aboard the Wright can call Andy Fobes at (504) 528-3339 or (504) 236-1354.
Port officials say truck drivers are currently in high demand and that all checkpoints have been discontinued along New Orleans trucking routes. Estimates are that the port trucking industry is operating around 25% to 50% of its capacity.
“All truck routes are open,” said Cynthia Swain, director of security and safety at the Port of New Orleans. “No truck drivers will be turned around or diverted.”