Multi-million dollar rail project set for Port of Greater Baton Rouge

The state of Louisiana and its governor John Bel Edwards have committed US$20M to complete a rail project for the Port of Greater Baton Rouge which will allow grain, soyabeans, corn and other commodities to be transferred more efficiently from farmers to export vessels.

“We are pleased to commit the additional state funds needed to facilitate the shipment of critical commodities from Louisiana farmers and other sources through the Port of Greater Baton Rouge,” World Grain quoted Edwards as saying on 5 June.

“These rail enhancements will mean better business and more profitable operations for our farmers, for the port and for major tenants like Louis Dreyfus Company (LDC).”

The funding would complete a second project bringing four rail tracks deeper into the port to serve Dutch agritrader LDC’s Port Allen Elevator Facility, which could ship about 5M to 6M tonnes/year of agricultural commodities.

Edwards said high river stages at the port had interfered with barge offloading. Companies like LDC were required to transfer commodities to the elevator facility with additional equipment at a slower pace. Having the option to deliver commodities via unit trains of 110 or more railcars would benefit agricultural producers and the customers who receive their goods.

Mike Strian, commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry said: “The expanded rail capacity will increase the volume and transfer of goods at a rapid rate.”

LDC had been operating at the port since June 2011 and had completed over US$200M in capital spending improvements at its Port Allen Elevator facilities, World Grain wrote.

Port officials were pursuing a project permit from the US Army Corps of Engineers for the LDC rail access project. World Grain wrote that pending approvals of permits, construction was expected to begin later this year and potentially be completed in 2020.

A press release from the office of the state’s governor said the port would begin a third major rail project in the near future.

“A rail logistics facility, known as a chambering yard, will be built along the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and expedite rail service to LDC’s grain elevators and rail delivery of wood pellets to [wood processor] Drax Biomass, enhance rail operations throughout the port, and make the port more attractive for prospective new tenants. LDC and Drax Biomass will pledge proceeds from expanded shipments as a match for state and port funding of the future chambering yard.”