Panama Canal Expansion Good for Port of New Orleans

New Orleans, LA – New Orleans is hoping to get a bigger share of maritime business when the Panama Canal expands in five years. But just how to get that bigger share is still not decided. Correspondent Eileen Fleming has more.

Port of New Orleans officials are anxious to get more container shipments once the Panama Canal doubles in size in 2014. So are city officials who want to attract more jobs. But the state hasn't decided the best way to accommodate the massive container vessels.

One plan by Republican state Senator A.G. Crowe of Slidell calls for developing a port near the mouth of the Mississippi River in Plaquemine Parish. Another by Sea Point proposes a terminal near Venice where containers would be off-loaded to barges and sent upriver.

City Councilman Arnie Fielkow wants one plan - soon.

Councilwoman Cynthia Willard-Lewis says planners need to hurry up and get behind a proposal.

The port says that in any case it needs to expand its existing Napoleon Avenue terminal.

A spokesman for Citizens Against Widening the Industrial Canal told the city council economic development committee that environmental studies are still needed.

Fielkow says the state needs to be the leader in backing a plan, and one should be decided in this legislative session.

For WWNO, I'm Eileen Fleming