Local industrial trade associations have received notice that the daylight-only transit for vessels moving along the Mississippi River between mile marker 192 and Baton Rouge is being lifted today, going into effect at 5 p.m.
Adam Knapp, president and CEO of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber—who said Tuesday that BRAC would work with the NOBRA Pilots Board of Examiners to finalize a resolution and expected the nighttime ban to be lifted by the end of the week—confirms it’s happening at 5 p.m. today.
Others who have been alerted of the anticipated move include Brett Bourgeois, executive director of the New Orleans Board of Trade, and state Sen. Bodi White, R-Central, who yesterday discussed potentially bringing the issue to light through legislative action. However, White says the restrictions—scheduled as a discussion topic at today’s Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget—were not discussed at the meeting because he and other senators had also heard from board director Capt. Robert Heitmeier that the ban would be lifted.
Calls made to Heitmeier were not returned before this afternoon’s deadline, with the front-desk operator saying the three-member board was in a meeting and therefore unavailable for comment.
Trade groups are also hearing that in addition to the U.S. Coast Guard requiring ships moving under the I-10 bridge to have a tug escort, NOBRA is also requiring that the tug be tethered and made fast to the vessel when transiting under the bridge.
NOBRA initiated the restriction last spring because of safety concerns amid rising water levels and consistently increasing current speeds. However, Baton Rouge area industry leaders argue the move has hurt commerce and slowed operations.