Rail project at Louisiana port will benefit pellet shipments

By Erin Voegele | June 03, 2019

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has announced a future rail project at the Port of Greater Baton Rouge will allow for expedited shipments of wood pellets. He said development of the project is expected to begin in the near future.

Edwards mentioned the project as part of a larger announcement made May 30 regarding $20 million in funds the state has committed to the Port of Greater Baton Rouge to improve rail operations.

Information released by Edwards’ office explains the Port of Greater Baton Rouge, located in Port Allen, is overseeing nearly $60 million in rail infrastructure projects that will expand commodity shipments for current and future tenants.

As part of that effort, Union Pacific Railroad completed a $12 million interchange track project last year that expanded potential delivery from 45 railcars to as many as 110 railcars on one train. The $20 million investment from the state represents a second component of the larger improvement project under which four rail tracks will be brought deeper into port property to serve the Louis Dreyfus Co. Port Allen Elevator facility.

A statement released by Edwards’ office indicates that a third major rail project will kick off in the near future. A rail logistics facility, known as a chambering yard, will be built along the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and expedite rail service to the LDC’s grain elevators, expedite rail delivery of wood pellets to Drax Biomass, enhance rail operations throughout the port, and make the port more attractive for prospective tenants. LDC and Drax Biomass will pledge proceeds from expanded shipments as a match for state and port funding of the future chambering yard.

“This is a tremendous economic development project that has been in the works for many years,” said Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M. “The expanded rail capacity will increase the volume and transfer of goods at a rapid rate. It will also allow for uninterrupted delivery of grain, wood pellets and other commodities when the river levels are too high or too low for normal commerce by barge or ship.”