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Greater Lafourche Port Commission 400’ Self-support Communications Tower


The Greater Lafourche Port Commission (GLPC) manages and provides public safety for Port Fourchon, Louisiana’s southernmost port. Port Fourchon is ideally located on the Louisiana coast in close proximity to the Gulf of Mexico. Port Fourchon serves as a base of operation for over 250 oil and gas service companies and is the land base for the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP, LLC), Louisiana’s largest domestic and foreign crude offloading, storage, and distribution center. LOOP is also the storage and terminalling facility for domestically produced oil from the Gulf of Mexico. Approximately 1.2 to 1.5 million barrels of crude oil per day are transported via pipelines through the port, in addition to the massive amounts of vessels, trucks, and helicopters that transport goods and personnel to and from offshore locations. All told, Port Fourchon is the nation’s premiere intermodal hub for the support of oil and gas industry.

With Port Fourchon’s critical need for reliable security, GLPC has made providing communications and surveillance infrastructure for the Port Fourchon Harbor Police and public safety dispatchers a priority. GLPC’s communications needs are complex and widespread, including everything from two-way radio communications to CCTV cameras in multiple locations throughout the 10th Ward of Lafourche Parish.  The infrastructure needed for such communications has traditionally been challenging to maintain, with dispatching stations located inside the levee system 23 miles north of the port and tower facilities located on privately owned and operated properties. Disparate tower and equipment locations, multiple owners, and multiple users from various agencies made keeping communications running smoothly a serious challenge.

The need for a port-run telecommunications hub was especially evident during weather emergencies. Private tower facilities must often terminate electrical power with any threat of inclement weather (i.e. hurricanes, tornadoes; etc.) due to safety regulations. Such shutdowns occurred when emergency communications were most needed by GLPC and other critical agencies, making communications equipment inoperable at the most demanding times. This also posed multiple challenges for the continued operation of law enforcement, port security, EMS and fire services.

The Solution

The Port Commission, in conjunction with several other public safety agencies, began discussions to procure and build a state-of-the-art, hurricane-resistant, critical public safety communications site in Port Fourchon, including a large tower and telecommunications buildings. GLPC budgeted $2.7 million for the entire project and obtained funding from Homeland Security and the State of Louisiana through the federal Port Security Grant program.

The GLPC consulted with MS Benbow & Associates (MSB) on the tower project.  After initial review and preliminary design discussions, MSB was selected to provide detailed design and project management for the entire project. MSB developed design documentation for the entire site to include electrical, telecommunications, network infrastructure, telecommunications backhaul, two-way radio communications (provided by Motorola), microwave relocation and tower requirements. MSB sub-contracted Gillen Design Systems for design work on both tower and building foundations. Sabre Tower and Poles designed and fabricated the tower steel.

The ultimate design for this facility resulted in a massive TIA-222G-rated 400-foot self-support solid steel tower that includes:

  • An elevated communications building platform 17 feet above mean sea level
  • A 225kW power plant for emergency power service
  • A 150 MPH communication building design for the two buildings installed
  • Communication duct banks to existing command buildings
  • A substantial electrical grounding system
  • The ability to hold the following equipment for wireless communications and telemetry:
    • Terma Scanter 4100 18’ RADAR Appurtenance
    • 40 Omni Antennas ranging from RFS BCR12H (Bogner) to Andrew dB222 UHF Antennas
    • 14 Parabolic Microwave with Radome ranging from 4’ to 8’
    • 6 PTZ Head weatherized remote cameras
    • 6 Ethernet panel antenna for remote video feeds
    • 12 GPS Antennas
    • Dozens of Yagi Antennas
    • 36 Cellular Panel Antennas
    • One WeatherBug
  • A total estimated combined appurtenance weight of 11,350 lbs.
  • A total estimated combined cable weight of 7,760 lbs.
  • The largest tower members are comprised of 9-foot diameter solid rod legs and 8.5” x 8.5” angle iron used as leg bracing.
  • The widest stance is at the tower base, stretching 34 feet 9 inches, and the tower face at the top is 5 feet wide.


The Outcome

The extensive list of potential equipment to be loaded on the tower was developed by GLPC and MSB and includes requirements of potential government and public safety agencies -related equipment that may one day use the port’s tower. Additional equipment was estimated for commercial and cellular use as well.

The tower was erected in October 2011, with critical communications infrastructure going on-air in March 2012. Microwave backhaul was complete in June 2012.

This facility provides extensive communication resources to aid in the security and public safety of Port Fourchon and surrounding areas in South Louisiana. This facility supports over a dozen public safety agencies and will provide government, commercial, and cellular vendors with endless communication resources into the future.

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