Port of Houston Awarded New Start for Ship Channel
The Port of Houston today received notification from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) that it was awarded a “new start” designation and $19.5 million in federal funds to begin construction of the Houston Ship Channel Expansion Channel Improvement Project. That project was authorized in the Water Resources and Development Act of 2020 as part of a larger legislative package passed by Congress in December.
The Houston Ship Channel Expansion, known as Project 11, will widen and deepen the channel for safer and more efficient navigation of vessels calling the port’s eight public terminals and more than over 200 private facilities operating along the channel.
“To go from Congressional authorization to securing a pathway for construction in less than a month is phenomenal news,” Port Houston Chairman Ric Campo said. “Project 11 will provide the greater Houston metropolitan area continued job growth and economic development opportunities, while improving air quality by reducing traffic congestion on the channel.”
Port Houston Executive Director Roger Guenther called the designation a momentous occasion for the port.
“We’re grateful for our bipartisan Congressional delegation and the many channel stakeholders who aggressively advocated to get this project authorized and funded,” Guenther said. “Without their continued support, we wouldn’t be in this position today.”
Harris County Precinct 2 County Commissioner Adrian Garcia, who represents much of the port region, noted how important the ship channel is to the entire area, as well as the state and nation.
“This new development is a huge win for the 1.1 million people in Precinct 2 in part because it will bring about more economic development, which invariably leads to more jobs,” Garcia said. “However, we must also look to invest in communities surrounding the ship channel and Port Houston; that means better roadways, focused flood protection and smart infrastructure. For the working families in my precinct to truly receive the full benefit from the channel expansion project, it’s going to take a strong financial commitment.”
The award is critically important for the port and channel stakeholders, as this designation and funding will allow the Corps and the port to execute a Project Partnership Agreement and for the port to begin construction on the critical elements of the project. For the past seven years, the port, bipartisan Congressional delegation, and channel stakeholders have been working together to make this channel improvement project a reality, including writing letters and making calls to influential federal decision-makers in Washington, D.C.
In addition to the “new start” designation and $19.5 million in construction funds, the Port also received $55.5 million in annual operations and maintenance funding to ensure safe and efficient vessel traffic on the current channel.
The Houston Ship Channel port complex and its public and private terminals, collectively known as the Port of Houston, is now the number one port in the United States in terms of total waterborne tonnage, It is also ranked first for foreign waterborne tonnage and number of vessel transits. Nearly 285 million tons of cargo moved through the Port of Houston overall in 2019.
Source: Port Houston