Port expands with federal grants
A $4 million grant from the Economic Development Administration will allow the Port of Orange to ship more weight by water than it can now by road, said Port Director and CEO Gene Bouillion.
The port will put up $1.6 million for the $5.6 million project, however, the Orange port will also benefit from $4 million given to the Port of Beaumont.
“They’re going to make some rail and road infrastructure improvements on the Orange County side, so really Orange County is getting a total of $8 million.”
The Orange port applied three months ago for the grant through the Southeast Texas Regional Planning Commission.
“This will help the economy in our area overcome the adverse affects of Hurricane Ike,” Bouillion said.
With the funds, the Orange port’s main loading road will be expanded to three lanes, and the loading area will take on more rail traffic. The port recently spent about $2.5 million to upgrade its rail lines.
The two-lane road will have a bypass lane added, he said.
“The idea is that we’re going to have containers on barges,” he said.
“For the most part, they’re going to be overloaded containers that are not legal on the highway. They can have 20-percent more weight if they come in by rail. Right now they currently go over the road to Houston by truck. Obviously this is good because we don’t have weight restrictions on our own property.”
A parking area near the Sabine will be concreted and become a staging area for the storage units, measured in TEU’s, which stands for Twenty-Foot Equivalent Unit. Units are 20 feet by 8 feet by 8 feet.
“It’s kind of like having a grocery bag and trying to put as much in as you can,” he said.
Barges will transfer the storage units to Houston to be loaded onto other ships.
In all some $20 million was provided in assistance grants related to hurricanes Ike or Gustav.
Other Gulf Coast areas receiving aid include:
• $10 million for the Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.
• $3 million for the Trinity Bay Conservation District of Anahuac.
• $2.5 million for Nassau Bay.