New, large dozer helps move material
Since 1926, the Port of Lake Charles has been a bustling hub of activity for southwest Louisiana. Today, the Lake Charles Harbor & Terminal District, which oversees the Port and the Calcasieu Ship Canal, a more than 30-milelong, deep-water channel to the Gulf of Mexico, handles about 58 million metric tons of cargo, making it the 12th-largest port in the nation.
“It’s definitely an economic development tool for southwestern Louisiana,” said Daniel Loughney, Director of Marketing and Trade Development for the Harbor & Terminal District. “We handle a lot of petroleum, mineral and food products. We’re also the largest liquid natural gas operation in the U.S.”
The Port itself loads and unloads about 6 million tons of cargo annually, much of it petroleum coke, barites and wood chips. To help handle, transport and stockpile that material on the docks, the Port recently bought a new Komatsu D275 dozer from H&E Equipment Services in Lake Charles and Sales Representative Dan Lavoie.
“We’re a 24/7, 365-days-a-year operation,” said Port of Lake Charles Director of Operations Bill Rase, who, with Deputy Director Todd Henderson, oversees the ship and barge traffic, as well as the materialhandling operations. “When a ship comes in, it’s all about getting cargo off and on it as quickly as possible. That’s the driving force behind this operation, and equipment such as the D275 is crucial to our ability to do that.”
“Some of the material we handle, barite for example, is very dense and heavy,” added Henderson. “To move it effectively, we needed a big, powerful machine like the D275 (410 hp and 110,000 pounds), which has to be one of the larger dozers in this part of the state. Its size and capabilities give us a great deal of versatility in the type of products we can handle here. It’s been a very effective machine for us.”
Port growth continues
In anticipation of significantly increased traffic in the future, Port of Lake Charles Commissioners have authorized $100 million in capital improvements during the next five years. The improvements will include two new 100,000-square-foot warehouses and a new loop track for rail transportation.
“The way we’re growing, we could well be a top-five port in the next five years,” said Loughney. “For a community our size, that would be a very significant accomplishment.”