Board president unhappy with pace of port expansion

GULFPORT — The president of the Harrison County Board of Supervisors says he’d like to see work go more quickly on the expansion of the Port of Gulfport and the connector road leading to it.

Supervisor Kim Savant tells the Sun Herald both projects are important to economic development in south Mississippi.

The port is expected to receive around $700 million in Community Development Block Grant funds for the 84-acre restoration and elevation of the West Pier that will more than quadruple container capacity by 2017.

The expanded port will allow a new tenant to stack cargo with cranes while current operations involve wheeled cargo. Also, goods can be shipped further and faster on an upgraded rail line and a new highway from the beach to U.S. 90 will enhance truck travel.

“I’m not satisfied with the progress on the port,” Savant said.

Savant said Gulfport and Harrison County each have one appointment to the Port Commission and the governor’s office has three appointments.

“I’m not laying this at the feet of the governor,” Savant said. “The county, the city and the governor’s office need to work together to get this done as quickly as possible.”

Mick Bullock, spokesman for Bryant, said the governor is eager for the project to move forward.

“Gov. Bryant has stated many times that he wants to see a serious push to get the port expansion under way, especially when more than $500 million in taxpayer money is being used,” Bullock said. “This project is enormously important to South Mississippi and the entire state, and Gov. Bryant wants to see it move forward at an aggressive pace.”

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