In the United States (US), the Louisiana Port Construction and Development Priority Program, which is administered by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD), has awarded the Port of Columbia a US$15 million infrastructure improvement grant. The grant, intended to fund site improvements, will enable the establishment of a renewable fuels plant at the Port.
The Port of Columbia in Caldwell Parish, Louisiana (LA) is the site of Strategic Biofuels LLC, a developer of negative carbon footprint renewable fuels plants, first project – Louisiana Green Fuels (LGF).
The infrastructure improvement grant represents a major advancement for the Port of Columbia and Caldwell Parish. It allows the Port to improve the services it can offer and ultimately improve revenues. Because of the grant’s potential impact, the Port engaged Gary LaGrange, longtime Director of the Port of New Orleans, to help us navigate the grant application process. During Gary’s 15-year tenure with the Port of New Orleans, he was responsible for more than US$500 million in infrastructure improvements before he retired in 2016. Our success in securing the grant confirmed the Port Commissioners’ wisdom in engaging him, commented Port Director Greg Richardson.
The grant will enhance the Port’s accessibility, serviceability and covers three areas of site improvement:
- Riverton Camp Road upgrade: Upgrading the current site access road to heavy industrial grade is an early requirement as it will provide immediate plant construction site entry. This work is being designed by the Port’s engineering firm Bryant Hammett & Associates, based in Ferriday, LA. Construction for the upgrade is expected to begin in mid-summer 2022.
- Rail spur construction: A 37-car rail spur will be constructed to allow access to the Union Pacific mainline that borders the port site. Engineering design, which is funded b by LGF has been completed by Hatch, and construction is expected to begin in 2023.
- Rail overpass construction: In conjunction with LGF and DOTD, the Port has developed a thoughtful traffic pattern to ensure safe and efficient access for forestry transport trucks to and from the future plant site. The design work is being performed by Meyer, Meyer, LaCroix & Hixson, Inc., from Alexandria, LA, and previously designed the Highway 165 rail overpass just north of the Port. Ensuring maximum traffic safety, the design features a new rail overpass directly into the site and a US Hwy 165 underpass using the existing highway-rail overpass along with a traffic circle, eliminating all truck left turns, at-grade rail crossings, and stop signs. Construction of the rail overpass is expected to begin in 2023.
We greatly appreciate the efforts the Port has made to secure funding for infrastructure improvements. The early upgrading of Riverton Camp Road coming this summer provides strong support for LGF’s aggressive construction schedule. It allows us to begin actual plant construction as soon as the full project funding is secured, and we expect that to be in early 2023. The Port has also been a key contributor in our efforts with DOTD and Union Pacific Railroad. The strong support we’ve continued to receive from Caldwell Parish confirms the wisdom of locating the plant here, said Bob Meredith, Strategic Biofuels’ Chief Operating Officer, and Caldwell Parish native.