Terrebonne port finishes latest phase of construction

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Port of Terrebonne announced the near-completion of their newest addition last week, a 4,000-square-foot warehouse and office complex that will include dock space for the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Water Patrol and the Terrebonne Levee District.

The building is located on Bayou Lacarpe Road in Houma.

A $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and state dollars, said Port Director David Rabalais, made the addition possible. Rabalais said tenants should be able to move in sometime in mid-to-late 2015.

“Our federal delegation was key in securing these funds. Everything out here has also been funded by the state. Our delegation is second to none,” Rabalais said during a formal announcement last week. “It is a perfect example of local, state and federal government working together to better our region.”

The port commission bought the building and its adjoining property in 2012 for $1.2 million.

“From that point, we cleaned up the property and [Rabalais] had been negotiating with the different entities for a couple of years at that point,” Port of Terrebonne secretary Natalie Lapeyrouse said.

Like the office facility, Phase II and Phase III are still a works-in-progress.

A boat slip, a launch and other outdoor vessel amenities including a fuel tank are planned, but not yet complete. Rabalais said those enhancements, which he refers to as the project’s “Phase II,” will aid the parish’s safety and security efforts.

“We love and want to protect our community,” the director said. “All of this will happen in a few months once Phase II is complete.”

An additional 3,600-square-foot building elsewhere on the port’s site should be completed by March, which will be leased to a tenant.

Obtaining dollars for the project, Rabalais and other officials said, was a difficult task.

“Last year, Sens. David Vitter and Mary Landrieu were able to secure $4.3 million,” Rabalais said.

A federal allocation tied to the tonnage of cargo passing through the Port, which includes all waterways in Terrebonne Parish also helped, Rabalais said.

A new way of tabulating cargo developed by Rabalais in conjunction with federal officials allowed the $1.5 million allocation for the first time.

Terrebonne Port ranks 86th in the United States among ports.

The same process, Rabalais said, will make requests for maintenance dredging of the Houma Navigational Canal easier for federal officials to grant. The Port of Terrebonne now ranks 86th out of nearly 150 ports nationwide on the federal priority list.

“This canal is a main artery to our commerce, and this parish would not be what it is today without the canal,” Rabalais said “We will now get funds to dredge the channel when it is needed.”

The port has been in existence for 50 years.

Landrieu, who was among the officials attending the announcement, said all of these changes are major milestones for Terrebonne Parish.

Landrieu, whose staff has worked closely with Rabalais, as has the staff of David Vitter, said money for the port is an essential element of Louisiana’s coastal strategy.

“This is an extraordinary transformation for this port,” she said. “We have not had justice for our coast for decades.”

Local officials also attended the event, including members of the Terrebonne Parish Council, the Terrebonne levee board and Sheriff Jerry Larpenter.

Rep. Gordon Dove said state Sen. Norby Chabert (R-Houma) has been a “champion” in coastal restoration.

“If you knew the time and energy spent on some of these issues by [Chabert], it is unbelievable,” Dove said.

Chabert said helping with the project was an easy decision and hopes more of the people in office will jump on board.

“It was a pleasure to help this project,” he said. “You would think knowing what we know about the maritime industry that the rest of the state would understand how important port infrastructure is.”

Port- Government officials from both Terrebonne Parish and the state unveil Phase IV, a 4,000 foot square foot office complex, of the parish port commissions’s new multi use facility.