Port moving forward with emergency operations center plans

The St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office mobile command center parked Monday at the Port of Morgan City. St. Mary Parish Sheriff Mark Hebert is standing by the center.
(The Daily Review Photo by Zachary Fitzgerald)

Port officials took another step Monday towards bringing the $9.3 million government operations and emergency center to a site on La. 182 next to the Morgan City Municipal Auditorium.
The Morgan City Harbor and Terminal District commission approved a resolution authorizing Port Commission President Jerry Gauthier to sign a cooperative endeavor agreement with the city to transfer 75 feet of city property across from the Morgan City Municipal Auditorium for use as the site for the new government operations and emergency center.
In exchange for the use of the property, the port would provide work compensation or payment of the appraised value of the property, which was about $98,000, Port Attorney Gerard Bourgeois said.
The center will allow multiple government agencies to be under the same roof and can serve as an emergency command center during a hurricane, Port Executive Director Raymond “Mac” Wade said in March.
At an April 8 special meeting, the commission approved a contract between the port and architect Carl Blum to design the new government emergency operations center. Also at that meeting, the commission accepted contracts to do preconstruction cost analysis, geotechnical services and agreements to purchase property from private landowners in order to construct the center.
The building will encompass about 33,000 square-feet, Blum said.
The City Council will vote on an ordinance for the cooperative endeavor agreement at the April 22 council meeting.
If everything goes according to schedule, groundbreaking for the center will be in July with the projected completion date in May 2015.
At Monday’s port meeting, Mike Lowe of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said the Crewboat Cut dredging contract has been advertised and the contract should be awarded by May 30. The dredging will start in June, Lowe said.
The project is designed to open up the cut in which rocks have already been placed in order to create a self-scouring channel.
The corps also has a contract for dredging in the Morgan City Harbor that will go out to bid in a week, Lowe said. Corps officials are going to see if there is any leftover money to spend on a dredging demonstration in the Atchafalaya River Bar Channel, he said.
The plan is to use any leftover money to dredge the worst spots in the bar channel, and convert a cutter-head dredge to be used as a sidecaster dredge for a demonstration, Jonathan Hird of Moffat & Nichol engineering firm said.
Sidecaster dredging involves agitating the sediment that builds up in the channel and casting it to the side of the channel while cutter-head dredging entails pulling a blade behind a tugboat to get the sediment in suspension.
Lowe said, “We want to simulate the agitation which is what the whole demonstration is. So in using a cutter-head to do the agitation we’re dropping (sediment) at the edge of the channel, which is what a sidecaster would do.”
Configuring the cutter-head dredge to use as a sidecaster over a short stretch would give engineers of an idea of whether the sidecaster method could suspend the sediment enough to maintain the necessary depth of the channel, Lowe said.
The commission approved applying for a 2014 Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant to seek funding for extension and rehabilitation of the port’s dock and installation of a box culvert at the drainage ditch on Youngs Road so the port can reach the railroad spur. The board also approved raising 25 percent matching funds for the project if the port is awarded the grant.
The estimated project cost would be $16 million with a $12 million federal request and $4 million local match. Putting up the local share improves the chances to receive the grant, Knobloch said. The port is competing against other ports, state governments and city governments, Knobloch said.
In other business, the commission:
—Approved entering into a contract to use two steel piles to install National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Physical Oceanographic Real-Time Systems along the port’s waterways. The contract also included the first year’s maintenance cost of the system.
—Approved spending $10,865 on radar equipment paid for by a grant.

By Zachary Fitzgerald zfitzgerald@daily-review.com

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