HCPHC Hosts Groundbreaking for Port Bienville Railroad Storage Yard

Written by Carolina Worrell, Senior Editor
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Hancock County Port & Harbor Commission (HCPHC), local officials and industry representatives gathered on Nov. 15 for the groundbreaking of the new Port Bienville Railroad Storage Yard at the McDonald Business Center in Bay Saint Louis, Miss.

According to HCPHC, the Port Bienville Railroad Storage Yard expansion, which the Commission says, represents one of its most “substantial investments into the railroad in many years,” will extend capacity from 450 cars to 600 cars, enabling HCPHC to “more effectively cater to current tenants and create prospects for future developments in regional transient storage.”

Guest speaker Bruce Lambert with the Maritime Administration spoke on the $6 million dollar project during the groundbreaking on Wednesday. The project is being funded by the Maritime Administration’s Port Infrastructure Development Program and will expand the existing rail line with the addition of a rail sidetrack and storage yard track ladders, thereby increasing its capacity by 150 car spaces.

The tracks and siding will involve 12,173 square feet of additional storage track and include 9 turnouts, 6,087 steel ties, and 9,739 tons of ballast. These additional spaces, HCPHC says, are expected to increase the Commission’s storage capacity by 25% so that it can “safely manage the current storage operations and meet the current repressed storage demand.”

In addition to the immediate safety and demand benefits, the Port Bienville Railroad Storage Yard project, HCPHC says, will allow Port Bienville plants to increase production and give the Commission the ability to market the increased rail capacity to rail companies looking for opportunities in the region, including the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad (NOPB), the Port of New Orleans and CSX. The increased access and usage, HCPHC adds, is expected to remove some of the shipping truck traffic currently involved in these connections, making these interstate and highway corridors safer.

Neel-Schaffer, Inc. is overseeing the engineering of the railroad storage yard, situated alongside the existing Alpek Polyester lead. The project is being constructed by Continental Rails Inc. The Port Bienville Railroad Storage Yard construction is under way and is anticipated to conclude by early fall 2024.

“The Port Bienville Railroad Storage Yard project represents a new milestone in Port Bienville and Hancock County as the largest investment in our railroad in over two decades,” said Hancock County Port & Harbor Executive Director and CEO Blaine LaFontaine. “The project increases our capacity allowing us to better serve our tenant demand, improve safety and efficiency for our employees and provide opportunities for transient storage regionally.”

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