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Shipping backups at Port NOLA not as bad as U.S. coasts

While the Napoleon Avenue wharf is busy, inbound ships are not backing up here like they are on...
While the Napoleon Avenue wharf is busy, inbound ships are not backing up here like they are on the east and west coasts.(rob masson)
Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 4:34 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Officials with the Port of New Orleans say they are seeing backups of container ships, but not like on the east and west coasts of the country.

There have been delays in shipping traffic in south Louisiana for some time, due to the hurricane and now the pandemic. Hundreds of containers from the ship Tempanos were being offloaded at the Napoleon Avenue wharf Monday, after being rerouted following Hurricane Ida.

“They discharged cargo to other ports but its coming back to Port NOLA today,” said Port NOLA Chief Commercial Officer Todd Rives.

While the Napoleon Avenue wharf is busy, inbound ships are not backing up here like they are on the east and west coasts, due to their proximity to Europe and China.

“LA and Long Beach are the biggest problem with about 50 or so. Savannah has about 20 about 17 miles out into the Atlantic,” said Bethany Stich, Ph.D., a UNO Transportation Studies Professor.

Transportation experts say supply line problems are making some goods scarce and others more expensive.

“People are now buying exercise equipment and furniture and we saw this real surge of consumer products into the US,” said Rives. “And now we have all this cargo hitting our infrastructure all at the same time.”

Trucking companies and warehouse operators can’t keep up. Store shelves sit empty.

Though the shipping delays are nowhere near as chronic as they are elsewhere, New Orleans has experienced some caused after Ida when the city lost power for over a week.

Now the port is back and though it may benefit from delays in other cities, Port NOLA officials are thinking more long-term.

Officials are spending $100 million to bring in four new cranes to expand the Napoleon Avenue container facility in their effort to attract more long-term business. But for now, at least, they don’t expect many vessels to reroute here from clogged ports on the coasts because of distance and distribution issues.

The four new cranes at the Napoleon Avenue wharf are expected to double the capacity there. They are expected to arrive around Thanksgiving, but their shipment was also delayed due to pandemic-related supply line issues.

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