Haley Barbour pushed a nebulous pre-Katrina plan for greatly expanding and deepening the state-owned Port of Gulfport as his crowning legacy. He called it the “Port of the Future,” which would attract mega-ships after the celebrated 2015 wider Panama Canal. Haley even grabbed $570 million federal Katrina low-income housing recovery funds to launch the superport scheme.
Well, he blew it. Big time.
Now Barbour is gone and safely ensconced in his Beltway lobbying money-factory. Folks on the Gulf Coast recently finally woke up to the fact they had been sold a bill of goods by Haley’s gauzy superport sales pitch. Now they’re up in arms.
“Shocked,” was the word heard in Gulfport environs when folks learned from port officials 10 days ago that the port won’t be able to dock mega-ships when the Panama Canal widening is completed in 2015, which was the basic selling point for Haley’s dream port. Further frustrating was the news from the state port official that promised deepening the harbor channel to 45 feet hasn’t even begun.