Port Houston Pushes For Expanded Channel
Port Houston continues its focused effort to obtain federal authorization to widen and deepen the Houston Ship Channel. Port Commission Chairman Ric Campo joined Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Lt. Gen. Todd T. Semonite on a helicopter tour of the Houston Ship Channel last month, witnessing first-hand the busiest ship channel in the nation and the constant vessel activity it experiences every day.
Campo described the Corps tour during his opening comments of the Port Commission of the Port of Houston Authority’s June meeting. Campo reiterated the importance of the visit by the Corps of Engineers team, supports Port Houston’s “focused effort” to achieve federal authorization to widen the Houston Ship Channel to accommodate better the larger vessels that will be calling the port.
Campo emphasized that the opportunity for Semonite to witness this activity first- hand “unmistakably demonstrated the challenges” that current constraints could place on the future of the busiest waterway in the nation.
Funding For Study
Actions taken by the port commission during the meeting further supported its mission to secure federal authorization for improving the channel. The commission approved $300,000 in additional funding for the Houston Ship Channel Expansion Channel Improvement Project Feasibility Study.
The improvement study formally began in October 2015, when the Corps of Engineers and Port Houston entered into a $10 million agreement (cost-shared 50/50) to complete that work over the following four years. The amendment allows for the study to be completed, as it adds the “locally preferred plan,” a recommendation for fully widening the entire Galveston Bay reach, to allow future vessel generations to transit the channel freely.
“The deepening and widening project remains our No. 1 priority, and we will continue to press for the fastest path to authorization through completion,” added Executive Director Roger Guenther.
The port commission also approved a contract totaling nearly $19 million for the purchase of nine Konecranes diesel electric container yard cranes for Bayport Container Terminal. The purchase will bring to 90 the total number of container yard cranes at its two container terminals.