Port supports channel funding partnership

Port of Lake Charles board members on Monday approved a resolution to enter into state legislation that creates a public-private partnership to help fund the Calcasieu Ship Channel.

Under House Bill 845 by Rep. Stephen Dwight, R-Moss Bluff, the partnership combines money from the state, the port and industries that have deepwater ships that navigate the channel. The three participants will provide the channel with $9 million per year. Currently, the ship channel is solely funded by the port.

The port board approved contributing $3 million per year to the Calcasieu River Fund for five years. According to the bill, the Legislature will contribute $3 million during that same time period, with private investment not exceeding $3 million.

Port Director Bill Rase said the public-private partnership is a great benefit for the port and the ship channel. He said it also opens a gateway to potentially receive federal money allocated for infrastructure.

The House Committee on Transportation, Highways and Public Works reported the measure favorably on May 13. It now awaits action on the House floor.

Later in the meeting, board members thanked Rase for his years of service. Rase has served as port director since May 2010. Starting June 1, Richert “Ricky” Self will take over as port director. Self started as the port’s finance director in 2003, eventually moving to deputy executive port director in 2017.

Mike Eason, board member, thanked Rase for his outstanding leadership as director. Rase thanked current and former port board members, along with port staff.

Rase said port staff has helped continue daily business, despite the COVID-19 outbreak.

“The port never shut down,” he said. “We never missed a beat. It’s been a team effort to keep the port running. We haven’t had any complaints from shippers about cargo that didn’t come in or get out.”

The port board last met in February and postponed meetings set for March and April because of COVID-19.

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