Port of Houston Awards Biggest Dredging Contract
On June 17, the port commission of the Port of Houston Authority (Port Houston), meeting in a special session, awarded two of the largest contracts in the organization’s history to further Project 11, the widening and deepening of the Houston Ship Channel. The commission approved the staff’s recommendation to award Weeks Marine and Curtin Maritime Corporation contracts totaling $430 million to complete the remaining Galveston Bay segments of the Houston Ship Channel expansion project.
“It’s an exciting day for Port Houston and the entire region and the millions of people who rely on the Houston Ship Channel for their livelihood and to bring them essential goods,” Chairman Ric Campo said. “One of today’s contracts to support Houston Ship Channel Expansion, Project 11 is historic and, to our knowledge, the largest award ever made.”
Port Houston staff recommended Weeks Marine and Curtin Maritime Corporation based on the best value, including cost, schedule, environmental components, and small, minority and woman-owned business enterprises (S/MWBE) inclusion.
“The teams recommended were the top proposers in all of these areas–best schedules, lowest costs and estimated NOx emissions, and most S/MWBE inclusion,” Executive Director Roger Guenther said in his report. “Nearly 32 percent of the contracts will go to S/MWBE companies, furthering our commitment to business equity, which is a priority for Port Houston.”
Campo told local media outlets, “It’s really exciting for Houston, and our entire region, for the people who rely on the ship channel for their livelihoods and all the essential goods and imports and exports that go out to sea.”
The port said nearly 52 percent of the contract amounts are dedicated to the creation of marshes, bird islands and oyster reefs. Both Campo and Guenther expressed appreciation to all involved in the historic collaborative effort, especially the Corps of Engineers, the Houston Pilots and industry partners.
According to the Corps, the Houston Ship Channel is the busiest waterway in the nation. Port Houston’s eight public terminals and more than 200 private facilities have an economic impact of nearly $802 billion in annual activity to the nation and support more than 2.1 million U.S. jobs. Project 11 is 82 percent funded, the port said, and efforts continue to secure the remaining federal funds. When complete, Project 11 will add more than $133 million annually in national economic value, according to the Corps study.
The port commission approved all of the items on the agenda, totaling $450 million in support of channel expansion efforts. Last month, during its regular meeting, the port commission also awarded approximately $30 million toward continued investments in landside infrastructure and terminal operations.
“The Houston Ship Channel is vital in our region, and we are proud to continue to invest in our collective future,” Campo said.
The port held a kickoff event June 2 for what officials called a “generation-defining project.” More than 200 people, including elected officials and representatives from multiple sectors in the maritime industry, attended.
When complete, the Houston Ship Channel expansion will widen the channel along its Galveston Bay reach from 530 feet to 700 feet. It will also deepen some upstream segments to 46.5 feet, make other safety and efficiency improvements and craft new environmental features. Work is expected to be completed by 2025.