Corpus Christi Channel Project Moves Forward

The Port Commission of the Port of Corpus Christi (Texas) voted June 19 to authorize the port authority to issue a total of $217 million in revenue bonds, with close to half that amount slated to allow the port to move forward on the Corpus Christi Ship Channel Improvement Project.

The Channel Improvement Project (CIP) was first authorized in the 2007 Water Resources Development Act, then reauthorized in 2014 under the same act. The plan will widen the Corpus Christi Ship Channel to 530 feet, allowing for two-way vessel traffic, and deepen it to 54 feet to accommodate larger oil tankers.

According to the port authority, the Port of Corpus Christi handles 60 percent of the United States’ crude oil exports, making it the fourth largest U.S. port by tonnage at an annual national economic impact of $150 billion.

The total cost of the CIP is estimated at $327 million, with the federal government responsible for $225 million and the port’s share projected at $102 million. A Project Partnership Agreement signed last year by the port and the Corps allows the port to pay its share at the front end of the project, thus allow the CIP to move forward in advance of federal appropriations.

Sign up for Waterway Journal's weekly newsletter.Our weekly newsletter delivers the latest inland marine news straight to your inbox including breaking news, our exclusive columns and much more.

The Port of Corpus Christi is slated to receive close to $23 million from the Corps of Engineers’ Fiscal Year 2018 work plan for the CIP, with $13 million already allocated in the Trump administration’s Fiscal Year 2019 Budget. According to the port, the anticipated completion date for the project is 2021–2022.

“The Port of Corpus Christi is proud to play a leading role as the country’s largest energy export port,” said commission chairman Charles W. Zahn Jr. in a June 11 statement announcing the 2018 work plan allocation. “We anticipate further federal support and funding in the coming years, and today is a great start toward maximizing our full potential.”

Just two day later on June 13, Orion Group Holdings Inc. announced it had been awarded an $18 million contract from the Port of Corpus Christi for the design, construction and dredging for a cement unloading dock on the Corpus Christi Ship Channel. That project will get underway the third quarter of this year and take about a year to complete. The forthcoming cement handling terminal will serve GCCM Holdings (Gulf Coast Construction Materials) and will handle more than 300,000 tons of cement per year.