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Options for State Port Expansion Outlined at Gulfport Workshop

By Rhonda Miller | Published 13 Aug 2012 11:11pm | comments
Port Expansion Workshop Gulfport

A restoration project using $570 million in federal money is underway at the state port in Gulfport. But that’s just rebuilding from Katrina.  As MPB’s Rhonda Miller reports, a proposal for long-term expansion of the port is adding to concerns in the community.  

The Army Corps of Engineers is considering a request from the state port for an expansion that would fill in 300 acres in the Mississippi Sound to build terminals and container storage areas.  At a recent meeting in Gulfport, Angela Bulger gave an update on the Corps of Engineers Environmental Impact Statement, or E-I-S.

"The EIS will also include an expanded evaluation of potential impacts to areas designated as low income or minority. This evaluation will take into consideration issues such as air quality, traffic, noise and economics."

Beverly Davis of Long Beach questioned the Corps of Engineers on several issues, including environmental concerns.

"The connector road from the interstate down to the port goes through a disadvantaged neighborhood. You’ve got soot, diesel fumes, which goes to asthma, and lung and people with breathing problems, respiratory problems."

The many phases of port development have been generating concerns, and confusion, in the community.

The restoration now in progress is expected to be finished in 2017.

Deepening the channel to handle bigger ships is a separate issue. And the port does not have an application in with the Corps of Engineers to deepen the 36-foot channel.

Then there’s the expansion.

Going in and out of the port all the time for his job with a trucking company, Mark Whetstine thinks it’s time to take all the big plans down a notch.

"I think they’re really, really optimistic, especially about the amount of containers they think they’re going to move in and out of this port. Raising the port up another 25 feet, by the time you get that done and the highway built and everything else, what happens when another Katrina comes by, when you’re not done?  I mean how long is this project going to take?  We’re going to study it, for what, the next 2 1/2 more years now."

The next update on the Environmental Impact Statement for the expansion is expected in about a year. Thecomplete study is due in 2015.

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For the Environmental Impact Statement go to:  www.portofgulfporteis.com

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Port Expansion Workshop Gulfport


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