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Houston is Awarded Funding Moving Channel Expansion Project Forward

Houston award funding and Army Corps to start channel expansion
Turning basin with downtown Houston in the distance - Port of Houston photo

By The Maritime Executive 01-20-2021 04:39:55

The Port of Houston received notification from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 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. The project 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.

According to the port, 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. The Houston Ship Channel Expansion, which is known as Project 11, the result of a seven-year effort was authorized in the Water Resources and Development Act of 2020 as part of a larger legislative package passed by Congress in December. 

“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.”

With nearly 285 million tons of cargo moved through the Port of Houston in 2019, the Houston Ship Channel port complex and its public and private terminals is 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. 

The next step in the channel expansion project comes as Houston’s Port Commission begins to review The Port Houston 2040 Plan. Designed to address a broad range of topics including infrastructure, operations, emerging technology, environmental stewardship, safety and security, community partnerships, and market dynamics, the plan provides a blueprint for the growth and development of Port Houston over the next 20 years.

“We recognize that achieving the goals established by the 2040 Plan will require the concerted efforts of Port Houston with numerous governmental agencies, port users, customers, non-governmental organizations, community leaders, and area residents,” said Port Houston Executive Director Roger Guenther.

In addition to the funding for the channel expansion, the port also received $55.5 million in annual operations and maintenance funding to ensure safe and efficient vessel traffic on the current channel.