Ports Rebounding From Pandemic Plan Major Infrastructure Investments

File image courtesy Port of Everett

Published Feb 8, 2021 7:38 PM by Mary Scott Nabers

Ports throughout the country have seen a surge in imports over the last several years, and many of them – undaunted by the pandemic – are launching projects that require private-sector partners. These upcoming contracting opportunities show the possibilities for infrastructure construction companies.


Officials at the Port of Los Angeles are preparing to launch a $24 million project that includes construction of a pedestrian bridge and the development of a 12-acre entry plaza. The bridge design is underway now and will be completed in spring 2021. Design of the railyard expansion, which includes the construction of five new tracks, enhancement of three existing tracks, land preparation and more is scheduled to be completed in 2021. Construction will begin in 2022 on projects that are estimated to cost approximately $40 million.


In 2020, the governor of Maine designated the port of Searsport to support the transportation, assembly, and fabrication of offshore wind turbines and called for a study to further analyze related needs. The study will include recommendations related to port upgrades, and a public-private partnership venture will be considered. Once the study is complete more decisions will be made and contracting opportunities will be outlined with projected costs. Dredging the commercial channel of Searsport, which serves Mack Point, is planned.

Washington State

The Port of Everett’s Capital Improvement Plan outlines plans for development of the Everett waterfront. The objective will be to improve and enhance the area for commerce while developing it as well for recreation for citizens and visitors. The plan includes 74 projects and many that will be launched in 2021. A sampling of upcoming contracting opportunities includes:

  • Construction of a Norton Terminal and finalizing upland cleanup in 2021 at a cost of $33 million.
  • Development of a new waterfront community area which will begin with the initial infrastructure, construction of new retail buildings, enhancing the wharf’s edge infrastructure, and enhancement of the Millwright District Infrastructure at a cost of approximately $26 million.
  • Development and implementation of a comprehensive marina services plan which will include fuel dock reconstruction planning and Central A Dock rebuild planning at a cost of $546,000.
  • Construction of additional restroom facilities and new parking infrastructure.


The Port of Houston’s planning documents provide for capital projects to enhance the port’s waterway, industrial property, roadways, rail infrastructure, and its port facility. In 2020, the port was awarded more than $100 million in federal grants for these types of projects. Some of the immediate plans include:

  • An expansion of its shipping channel.
  • Improvement of its dredged material placement areas.
  • Rehabilitation of the Barbours Cut Terminal Wharf 4.
  • Refurbishment of the Barbours Cut Terminal Container Yards 3 and 4.
  • Construction at the Bayport Terminal Wharves 6 and 7 location.
  • Expansion and drainage work at the Bayport Port Road area.
  • Development surrounding the Bayport Complex.
  • Maintenance and upgrading of a multipurpose port facility.

The Port of Galveston has announced a bulkhead replacement and mooring upgrade project which has an estimated cost of $17 million. In 2023, a slip fill project has a projected cost of $16 million. Another project at Pelican Island in 2023 has a cost estimate of $21 million, and an auto processing berth project has a price tag of $30 million. Within the next 10 years, expect contracting opportunities for several projects that each has a cost estimate of more than $100 million.


Officials at the Port of Miami plan to invest more than $750 million for six new cruise terminals over the next five years. Planning documents also call for these large projects within the next several years:

  • Improvements to Seaport channels as a result of the new terminal additions at the Port of Miami with costs estimated at $130 million;
  • Development of a state?of?the?art inspection and fumigation facility in conjunction with Miami?Dade Seaport at a cost of $70 million;
  • Preparation work for a new future terminal building at a cost of $63 million;
  • Construction of a new road to handle increased traffic at the new terminals with a price tag of $58 million; and
  • Construction of a new facility for Immigration and Customs Enforcement Operations which is projected to cost $24 million.

Companies that can provide the types of services that port officials will be seeking over the next several years should pay close attention to these opportunities and others across the U.S. Upcoming public-private contracting engagements at ports promise the potential for billions of dollars in new business for private-sector firms.

Mary Scott Nabers is president and CEO of Strategic Partnerships Inc., a business development company specializing in government contracting and procurement consulting throughout the U.S. Her recently released book, "Inside the Infrastructure Revolution: A Roadmap for Building America," is a handbook for contractors, investors and the public at large seeking to explore how public-private partnerships or joint ventures can help finance their infrastructure projects.

The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.