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Port of Beaumont names overpass after first Black man elected board president

Many port board members describe former Lee E. Smith as a tremendous asset to the Port of Beaumont.

BEAUMONT, Texas — The Port of Beaumont has named a new overpass after a true trailblazer, former Commissioner Lee Smith.

The Carroll Street Overpass is now the Lee E. Smith Overpass.

Many port board members describe former Smith as a tremendous asset to the Port of Beaumont.

They honored him Friday by etching his name on the port overpass.

It’s an overpass that connects different parts of the Port of Beaumont.

“He was such a connector, a bridge. He brought people together,” said Port Director Chris Fisher.

The overpass was a $5 million project that took two years to build. Fisher said the name change is very fitting.

“Lee Smith was port commissioner of almost 20 years,” Fisher said.

Smith started as port commissioner in 2002 and in 2018, he became the first black man to be elected board president.

Two years later, he died at the age of 79. At Friday’s ribbon-cutting, Georgina Guillory reminisced on the impact Smith left behind.

“He really went out and he loved the port,” Guillory said. “And everywhere he went, he promoted the port. He also loved Beaumont. So, he was an ambassador of the port. He was a great citizen of this city.”

Smith told 12News that this overpass paves the way for future growth at the port.

“This is a very, this is a great separation that allows our cargo to move and be handled on either side of the tracks,” Fisher said. “And it's also a very important safety enhancement that we don't have at grade crossing the rail track.

Fisher said he's glad this overpass will forever be connected to former commissioner Smith.

“So, this overpass being named after him is just perfect," Fisher said,

The new overpass is on port property, so it's not open to the public.

RELATED: Southeast Texans honor life and legacy of Port of Beaumont commissioner, Lee Smith

Credit: KBMT

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