Bryant reiterated that the port would need a “robust evacuation plan” for tenants and containers in case of a hurricane if plans do not proceed to elevate the port from 10 feet to 25 feet above sea level.
Bryant also said the money the state plans to spend on elevation might better go toward East Pier improvements or deepening the ship channel to serve larger vessels.
Channel deepening, however, is far from assured. The permitting process, which takes years from study to approval through construction, has not even started.
Other ports, anticipating a wider Panama Canal and the opportunity to serve bigger ships, are years ahead of Gulfport with their plans.
Bryant said his first priority is to hold onto the four tenants who have stuck with the port through restoration and create the 1,200 jobs the port expects from West Pier expansion and restoration.