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Port of New Orleans CEO Eyes Infrastructure Improvements, Predicts Increase in Trade

Tegan Wendland
A container ship docks at the Port of New Orleans.

The outlook for the shipping industry under President Donald Trump, so far, has been a bit of a mixed bag. Some policies will be good for business, others might hamper it.


Despite that, the CEO of the Port of New Orleans says the future looks good.


Since taking office, Trump has pulled out of an international trade agreement and considered tariffs on certain imports. Both of these moves could mean less stuff flows through US ports.


But his administration is also eager to spend lots of money on infrastructure, and that could be great for ports around the country.


Port of New Orleans CEO, Brandy Christian, spoke to a group of businesspeople and policymakers. She wants to upgrade the docks so they can stack more cargo.


Each year 500,000 shipping containers move through the port. “And with further investments in equipment,” she says, “you could go to a million and a half.”


Some ships aren’t carrying their full load, but if the river was deeper they could carry more cargo. So Christian wants the Army Corps of Engineers to dredge the river. The Corps is currently analyzing the costs and benefits of dredging another five feet -- from a depth of 45 feet to 50 feet.


Last year the Panama Canal was widened to let bigger ships through. Christian predicts that will increase the port’s activity up to eight percent.


Support for the Coastal Desk comes from the Walton Family Foundation, the Coypu Foundation, the Greater New Orleans Foundation, and local listeners.

As Coastal Reporter, Travis Lux covers flood protection, coastal restoration, infrastructure, the energy and seafood industries, and the environment. In this role he's reported on everything from pipeline protests in the Atchafalaya swamp, to how shrimpers cope with low prices. He had a big hand in producing the series, New Orleans: Ready Or Not?, which examined how prepared New Orleans is for a future with more extreme weather. In 2017, Travis co-produced two episodes of TriPod: New Orleans at 300 examining New Orleans' historic efforts at flood protection. One episode, NOLA vs Nature: The Other Biggest Flood in New Orleans History, was recognized with awards from the Public Radio News Directors and the New Orleans Press Club. His stories often find a wider audience on national programs, too, like NPR's Morning Edition, WBUR's Here and Now, and WHYY's The Pulse.

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