Funding Awarded to Complete Corpus Christi Channel Improvements

Port of Corpus Christi
36-mile long Corpus Christi Ship Channel is being deepened and widened to permit more traffic on the waterway (Port of Corpus Christi)

Published Dec 27, 2022 5:37 PM by The Maritime Executive

Funding for the last stage of the improvements to the Corpus Christi Ship Channel was include included in the recently enacted federal budget for 2023. The two-year project will complete the deepening and widening of the channel as well as provide for other improvements for the U.S.’s third-largest seaport in total waterway tonnage and the nation’s largest U.S. energy export gateway.

The Corpus Christi Ship Channel Improvement Project is a four-phase undertaking. The project calls for increasing the depth of the Corpus Christi Ship Channel from -47 feet Mean Lower Low Water (MLLW) to -54 feet MLLW, while also widening it to 530 feet. An additional 400 feet of barge shelves will also be constructed, allowing for two-way traffic of both vessels and barges in tandem.

“It took nearly three decades to commence work on deepening and widening the Corpus Christi Ship Channel, but finally the Port of Corpus Christi and its customers can see the light at the end of the tunnel and final project closeout,” said Charles Zahn Jr., Chairman of the Port of Corpus Christi Commission. “We thank all the Administrations and Congresses who funded this project – led by our very own Texas Congressional Delegation – for their unwavering support in making this generational infrastructure project a reality for the benefit of our region, the state, and the nation.”

With the final budget appropriation for the project to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Phase 4 will begin in 2023, with the entire project estimated for completion in 2024. This phase focuses on the area between the Chemical Turning Basin to Viola Turning Basin. Phase 1, which focused on the entrance to the Port of Corpus Christi from the Gulf of Mexico to Harbor Island was completed in March 2020 by Great Lakes Dredge & Dock.

In addition to Phase 4, Phases 2 and 3 are currently under construction. Texas-based dredging companies Callan Marine and Great Lakes Dredge & Dock are conducting dredging operations for Phases 2 and 3. Phase 2 focuses on deepening and widening the channel from Harbor Island to 2.7 miles past the La Quinta Junction and includes Ingleside, where the three large crude export marine terminals are located. Phase 3 extends west of the La Quinta Junction through the Chemical Turning Basin in the Port’s Inner Harbor.

Located on the western Gulf of Mexico with a 36-mile channel, Port Corpus Christi is a major gateway for international and domestic maritime commerce. The Port of Corpus Christi is the largest port in the United States in total revenue tonnage and a key element in the U.S. energy industry.