Concept and Overview of the Louisiana International Terminal in St. Bernard Parish
The Port of New Orleans is investing in St. Bernard Parish with an international container terminal, which will meet growing demand and create jobs and business opportunities for the region and state.
The Container Industry
The Port of New Orleans is Louisiana’s only international container port and in the past 10 years, container volumes have doubled.
However, Louisiana is limited to handling container ships that can hold up to 6,200 containers due to the height of the Crescent City Connection bridge. In order to remain competitive with other Gulf and U.S. ports, Louisiana needs a downriver terminal that can handle the growing size of ships in the international container industry.
An additional terminal will create new opportunity for the region and state and will ensure that Louisiana remains competitive.
Advantages of Violet Location
In search of a location for a downriver container terminal, Port NOLA considered sites in St. Bernard and Plaquemines Parishes. The Violet site was found to be the best location because of its naturally deep water, proximity to road and rail networks, and location inside the federal levee system.
Additional criteria was considered for each possible site:
- Ability to handle large ships: large ships (carrying 15,000 or more twenty-foot containers) must be able to navigate the river at the location
- Deep water: location should have deep-water access with minimal dredging required
- River frontage: river frontage should be large enough for a multi-berth wharf
- Terminal acreage: property must be at least 300 acres for a terminal
- Ancillary acreage: Property should have extra acreage for other terminal-related facilities
- Proximity to transportation: location should be close to existing and future roads and railroads
- Flood protection: location should be inside the federal levee system
- Proximity to labor: location should be near population centers
- Property ownership: location should have a clear path to property ownership
- Maritime jurisdiction: location should be in Port NOLA's jurisdiction
Federal, State, and Regional Partners
Partners include federal, state, and regional delegations and economic development agencies. Infrastructure and transportation agencies are also engaged in the project.
St. Bernard Port
The St. Bernard Port and Port NOLA are working together on this project. The St. Bernard Port will continue to handle non-containerized cargo at their facilities.
Port NOLA is in negotiations with a private partner to assist with design, construction, financing and maintenance. The private partner will also be responsible for terminal operations.
The Port of New Orleans has purchased 1,200 acres in Violet. We expect to use about 400 acres for the future container terminal and related infrastructure. The remaining green space separating neighbors from terminal activity and leaves room for other potential community assets. Other parts of the property will be used to support new cargo-related businesses. Design and land use for the terminal footprint will be finalized through the public permitting process.
Proposed Terminal Layout
This layout concept is a starting point for the federal permit process. Throughout the multi-year permit process, the layout is very likely to change. Those changes will be based on community input, the terminal operator's needs, environmental impacts, and road and rail operations.
Some of the things being considered in terminal design include:
- The alignment of St. Bernard Highway
- Optimizing drainage
- Creating neighborhood buffers
- Mitigating environmental impacts
- Minimizing traffic and rail impacts
- Relocating the school and park
- Keeping the cemetery in place with room for expansion
Planned Terminal Capacity
The new terminal will be built over time and we estimate it will take 25 years to reach its maximum capacity. The chart below illustrates the estimated annual container capacity by phase:
Containers* per year
2028 (at opening)
2052 (at full capacity)
*To use terms that are familiar to the widest audience, our numbers are listed as containers. There is a separate industry standard called Twenty-foot Equivalent Units or TEUs. In the New Orleans context, 1 TEU is equal to .62 containers.
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires federal agencies to consider impacts to the natural and human environments before permitting construction.
The NEPA process ensures that the public, local community, and stakeholders are included in the process. Those affected by the terminal will help identify what impacts should be studied. They will also confirm those issues are represented correctly in the environmental report.
Permits Required from the Army Corps of Engineers
The Port is seeking permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to build the proposed terminal. The project proposal overlaps with the Mississippi River, Mississippi River Levee, and wetlands. So, three permits are needed from the USACE to construct the terminal:
Section 404 of the Clean Water Act – Wetlands is required since the project will be built where there are currently wetlands;
Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act – Navigable Waterways is required since the project will be built along the Mississippi River; and
Section 408 of the Rivers and Harbors Act – USACE Civil Works Projects is required since the project will overlap with the Mississippi River Levee.
Environmental Impact Statement
For a project of this size, we expect the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to require an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). An EIS is the highest amount of documentation required under the NEPA process.
An EIS identifies the potential impacts of a project on the physical, cultural, human, and natural environments. It also identifies ways to minimize or avoid the negative impacts.
Additionally, the document will look at what would happen over time if the terminal was not built. This is called a “no action” analysis, and it gives the study a baseline for comparison. The document will also review other alternatives, like different designs to accomplish the same goal and purpose.
Topics studied in the EIS may include, but are not limited to:
- Business, Jobs, and the Economy
- Communities, Neighborhoods, and Environmental Justice
- Historical and Cultural Resources
- Road, Rail, and Barge Traffic
- Water and Air Quality
- Wetlands and Natural Habitats
Third Party Contractor
A third-party contractor will be hired to complete the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) independently, with oversight from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).
The Port will request and receive proposals for the third-party contractor position. Then the Port will choose its top three candidates. The USACE will choose from those three candidates and select the third-party contractor. The third-party contractor will report to the USACE, not the Port.
The third-party contractor will conduct the research, follow the NEPA process, and write the EIS independently. The Port will provide data to USACE and the third-party contractor, like design details and measures to lessen impacts. The third-party contractor will review all information provided by the Port to make sure it is technically acceptable.
The USACE will oversee the completion of the research and has the final say on the study’s content and permit decisions.
Community and Stakeholder Input
The public permitting process provides an opportunity for all residents and stakeholders to voice their opinions to decision makers. Public comments will be taken into consideration and inform what studies should be included. The public will also have ample opportunity to review and comment on the Draft and Final Environmental Impact Statement once published.
Public comment is currently being accepted through April 27, 2022.
Current Status and Schedule
This process began when the Port submitted its permit application to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in 2021. In January 2022, the USACE deemed the application complete and issued a public notice with a 30-day public comment period. Due to a federal process change regarding wetlands, the USACE has reissued the public notice for an additional 30-day public comment period from March 28, 2022 to April 27, 2022. Next, the USACE will decide if an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is the proper environmental review for the project.
The third-party contractor hiring process will then begin. The third-party contractor’s first job will be to develop the schedule for the full environmental impact review process. After that, we will be able to gauge a more thorough timeline for completion of the EIS and opportunities for public input and engagement.
Overall, the process of completing the EIS is expected to take two to three years. The Port cannot begin construction until permits are received from the USACE. Some activity will be happening on the site during this process as a part of the studies being conducted.
Below is an estimated timeline, which is subject to change:
|Dec. 2021||Permit application accepted by Army Corps of Engineers (complete)|
|Dec. 2021 - Feb. 2022||Army Corps reviews permit application and issues public notice (complete)|
|Mar. 2022 - Apr. 2022|
|Apr. 2022 - May 2022||Environmental Impact Statement determination|
|May. 2022 - Jul. 2022||Third-party contractor procured|
|Jul. 2022 - Oct. 2022||Environmental Impact Statement and gap analysis begins|
|Oct. 2022 - Mar. 2023||Scoping|
|Jan. 2023 - Jan. 2024||Section 408 process|
|Mar. 2023 - Mar. 2024||Studies completed and draft Environmental Impact Statement developed|
|Mar. 2024 - Jun. 2024||Draft Environmental Impact Statement public review and response period|
|Jun. 2024 - Nov. 2024||Final Environmental Impact Statement developed|
|Nov. 2024 - Jan. 2025||Final Environmental Impact Statement public review and response period|
|Jan. 2025||Record of decision|
|Feb. 2025||Permit approval letter|
Economic Impact Study
In the Spring of 2021, Lewis Terrell and Associates completed an economic impact study analyzing the projected impact of the new terminal on the parish, region, and state. The study looks at economic impact generated by construction, operations, and tax revenue. Key findings are outlined in the sections below.
Based on economic impact projections, the new terminal will create many types of direct and indirect jobs in the region and the state. These are family-supporting jobs at all skill levels, both union and nonunion. Job numbers are expected to grow over time as terminal cargo increases:
Jobs in St. Bernard Parish
2028 (at opening)
2032 (after 5 years)
2050 (after 22 years)
Jobs by Industry
Job types will include cargo-related jobs. Additionally, ancillary business services--like food and retail--that are supported by the presence of the terminal will increase, providing business opportunities in the parish. Based on economic impact projections, here's a snapshot at year five of the industries with the most new jobs in St. Bernard Parish:
Job Numbers at Year 5
|Transportation and warehousing||999|
|Nondurable goods manufacturing||234|
|Durable goods manufacturing||150|
|Real estate and rental and leasing||64|
|Other services (i.e. mechanical, janitorial, etc.)||56|
|Management of companies and enterprises||43|
|Health care and social assistance||36|
|Food services and drinking places||35|
|Finance and insurance||30|
|Administrative and support and waste management and remediation services||27|
|Professional, scientific, and technical services||24|
|Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction||22|
|Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting||9|
|Arts, entertainment, and recreation||7|
Output and Earnings
The total economic impact of the construction and operations of the Louisiana International Terminal is significant for the state, but is especially significant for St. Bernard Parish.
While statewide output and earnings are larger, St. Bernard Parish sees a more significant economic impact from the terminal when compared to its population. In fact, projections indicate the average annual St. Bernard personal income will increase 15% by 2050 due to the Louisiana International Terminal.
The chart below shows output and earnings directly and indirectly related to the terminal over the next 30 years.
St. Bernard Parish
Output Total by 2050
|$68.2 Billion||$98.7 Billion|
Average Annual Output Per Capita
Earnings Total by 2050
|$7 Billion||$24 Billion|
Average Annual Earnings Per Capita
State Tax Revenue
Economic impact projections anticipate that by 2050, Louisiana International Terminal operations will have generated $807 million in Louisiana tax revenues. The majority of those revenues will come from sales tax ($310 million) and income tax ($389 million).
Annual state tax revenue is anticipated to increase over time as terminal cargo grows:
New Tax Revenue in Louisiana
2028 (at opening)
2033 (after 5 years)
2050 (after 23 years)
St. Bernard Parish Tax Revenue
St. Bernard Parish will benefit through additional sales and property taxes from the project. While Port NOLA does not pay property tax, tenants and other private companies providing maritime, logistics, value-added, and other ancillary services do pay taxes. Over 23 years, St. Bernard Parish can expect a total of $194 million in new taxes divided between $131 million in sales taxes and $63 million in property taxes.
Annual tax revenue is anticipated to increase over time as terminal cargo grows:
New Tax Revenue in St. Bernard Parish
2028 (at opening)
2033 (after 5 years)
2050 (after 23 years)
Wetlands and Drainage
Drainage and wetland planning are both a part of the two- to three-year permitting process ahead. The terminal will be required to rebuild the wetlands its footprint covers. Port NOLA prioritizes rebuilding wetlands locally and as much replacement wetland as possible will be located within St. Bernard Parish.
The terminal will maintain or improve, not worsen, the drainage in Violet. Detention ponds and pump stations on the terminal site will help keep stormwater out of neighborhoods.
The terminal will be designed to keep impacts on neighborhoods to a minimum. The goal is to provide features to separate communities from the terminal, including trees, landscaping, and sound walls.
Any potential buyouts that may be considered as part of the public permitting process would involve a limited number of homes with specific impacts.
W. Smith School
The W. Smith School will need to be relocated due to the terminal project. Port NOLA is committed to working with partners to build a new school within the Violet community that is equal to or better than the most recently built schools in the parish.
The baseball field will need to be relocated due to the terminal project. Port NOLA is committed to working with partners to build a new park within the Violet community that is equal to or better than the most recently built parks in the parish.
The Merrick Cemetery will remain in its current location with land for future expansion. It will remain open and accessible to the public.
The property is large enough to accommodate a container terminal and buffers between nearby residents. Buffer elements may include trees, landscaping, sound walls, and other types of features to limit noise and to benefit the community. Buffer design will be included in the public permitting process.
New East-West Artery
Port NOLA recognizes that with population growth, traffic congestion is a significant concern for St. Bernard communities. Terminal-related traffic will add to that congestion over time—a factor that will be studied during the multi-year public permitting process.
That’s why Port NOLA is committed to working with local, state, and Federal transportation partners now to design and build a new elevated roadway connecting Lower St. Bernard to the interstate system.
The new roadway is a parallel project to the Louisiana International Terminal and would relieve congestion, offer an alternative route for trucks, serve as another hurricane evacuation route, and attract additional economic investments to the parish. A third traffic artery, envisioned as an elevated road outside the levee system along the 40 Arpent Canal, is a project that local officials and community members have considered for years.
Now, the Louisiana International Terminal can serve as the needed catalyst to align resources and partners to deliver. As a dedicated partner, Port NOLA is supporting early steps in coordination with the Regional Planning Commission and the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development.
We recognize that traffic is a major concern for the Violet and St. Bernard communities. The environmental permitting process will include studies to understand the proposed terminal’s impact on traffic in Violet and St. Bernard Parish over time.
The traffic studies will:
- include vehicle, train, and ship traffic flow
- review existing traffic patterns, including how much traffic the roads can handle
- consider future growth within the parish, such as population increases, business growth, and other industrial developments
- consider traffic patterns over time if the terminal wasn’t built but the parish continued to grow at the expected rate to provide a baseline for comparison
- review traffic impacts expected from the terminal over time and compare those results to traffic patterns over that same period if the terminal wasn’t built
- look beyond the terminal to discover and address potential ripple effects across the parish
The Louisiana Department of Transportation Development must review and approve the plan for studying traffic as well as the standards it should follow. Field data and traffic counts will be collected in accordance with Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development’s procedures.
The environmental impact review will include opportunities for public comment. We encourage you to share your thoughts so we can improve the terminal design and address the community’s needs.
Additional Traffic Solutions
The Port of New Orleans aims to minimize the impacts of vehicle traffic on the community. And it is important to remember that not all containers will travel by truck. Some will travel by barge or by rail.
Port NOLA will continue to partner with St. Bernard Parish, New Orleans Regional Planning Commission, and the Louisiana Department of Transportation Development for traffic solutions. While Port NOLA will design and construct the terminal, the Port will coordinate with other agencies to implement infrastructure solutions outside of the Port's authority.
Potential traffic and road solutions could include:
- New road (see New East-West Artery section above)
- Improvements to existing roads and intersections
- A dedicated roadway for trucks on terminal property
- Adjusting traffic signals to prevent backups.
Road improvements may happen in phases based on need as the terminal is built. Truck traffic could be minimal in the early phases of the project and could increase in future years as the terminal earns business. This will be informed by the traffic studies.
Port NOLA has a history of building to manage vehicle traffic:
- A road dedicated to trucks was built inside the New Orleans terminal to separate truck traffic from the nearby Uptown neighborhoods.
- A dedicated road pulls New Orleans cruise-related vehicles off of public streets.
The Port of New Orleans aims to minimize the impacts of train traffic on the community. Rail traffic will be considered as part of the environmental impact transportation studies. We will share more details about this portion of the study as information becomes available.
The Port of New Orleans aims to minimize the impacts of ship traffic on the community. Barge traffic will be considered as part of the environmental impact review transportation studies. We will share more details about this portion of the study as information becomes available.
Container Shipping Overview
A wide range of products, commodities, and agricultural items are moved around the world in containers every day. Container shipping is one of the safest and cleanest industrial operations.
New Orleans' top exports include plastic resins, paper products, and frozen poultry. Container imports include coffee beans, furniture, electronics, textiles, medical equipment, and fresh fruit.
Less than 7.5% of the containers handled at the Port of New Orleans container terminal in 2020 held hazardous cargo. Hazardous materials coming through New Orleans include common items like alcoholic beverages, paints, and treated wood. A relatively small amount of hazardous materials used for industrial purposes also come through the Port.
Federal regulations govern the movement of hazardous materials, with multiple agencies responsible for ensuring safety. Those agencies include the Coast Guard, Louisiana State Police, and Department of Homeland Security, as well as others.
The role of a container terminal is to move containerized items from one mode of transportation to another. Containers are not unsealed or manipulated in the process, making operations very safe. Special containers are designed to keep hazardous materials safe during transport.
Container terminals are the most secure maritime facilities in the country. They move the vital goods and supplies that support the nation's economy.
The Department of Homeland Security and Coast Guard must review and approve the Port's Maritime Security facility plan annually. Security features include:
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection
- Harbor Police Department
- FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force
- Federally regulated entry to premises
- Security cameras
- Detection monitors
- Cargo tracking from origin to destination
Port NOLA's emergency management apparatus includes plans for hurricanes, hazardous materials, fires, and more. At the new terminal, the Harbor Police Department will be expanded to provide law enforcement and emergency response capabilities.