Dredging & Marine Construction

Corps Awards Final Corpus Christi Channel Improvement Project Contract

The Galveston Engineer District awarded the fourth and final multi-million-dollar contract for the Corpus Christi Ship Improvement Project to Callan Marine on September 25.

Callan will receive approximately $102.9 million to complete dredging on the Inner Harbor Reach, the final stretch of the project. Including the final contract, the entire project will beneficially use roughly 5 million cubic yards of dredged material.

“Through extensive resource agency coordination, cooperation with our non-federal sponsor—the Port of Corpus Christi—a close relationship with the Texas General Land Office and a tremendous partnership with the Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries program, about 5 million cubic yards of dredged material will be turned into almost 1,000 acres of something useful while leaving capacity in upland placement areas for routine maintenance dredging disposal,” said Lisa Finn, the Galveston District’s environmental program manager for operations.

The overall channel improvement project will combat erosion within the channel by providing 395 acres of sacrificial erosion protection along with the construction of a 2,000-foot breakwater—to tie into a currently planned 4,000-foot breakwater—in the Nueces Delta. The Nueces Delta is currently eroding at a staggering rate of about 8.2 feet per year, Finn said.

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The project also aims to nourish degraded habitats by converting 206 acres of open water in an estuarine marsh. An additional 120 acres of intertidal living shoreline will be created to provide shoreline protection and prevent road overtopping, Finn said. The project will also create another 200 acres of an industrial use site for local economic and commercial entities.

“Our work and partnership with the Port of Corpus Christi—one of the largest ports in the U.S.—is vital to maintaining the economic engine of Texas and the nation,” said Col. Rhett Blackmon, Galveston District commander. “I’m especially proud that more than 90 percent of the new work dredged material in this contract is staying within the system, through our beneficial use program.”

“This is one of the largest beneficial use projects the district has ever constructed,” said Chris Frabotta, district operations chief. “That much dredged material would fill up the Astrodome more than three times.”

The project will improve approximately 11.9 miles of the associated shipping channel, effectively widening the channel from 400 feet to 530 feet and deepening it from 47 feet to 54 feet.

In its own announcement, the Port of Corpus Christi said the project will make the Corpus Christi Ship Channel “the most improved waterway along the U.S. Gulf Coast.”

“The completion of this history-making project largely is due to the confluence of several key factors, including: the diligence of our friends at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; the commitment to prioritizing this critical infrastructure by our federal delegation and the administration; and the growing demand for infrastructure generated by our Port of Corpus Christi customers,” said Kent Britton, CEO for the Port of Corpus Christi.

The nearly $681.6 million project is jointly funded by the federal government and Port of Corpus Christi, with the final tranche of project funding allocated by Congress in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023. That $157.3 million allocation will be used for final project close-out.

In 1990, Congress authorized a study to determine the feasibility of expanding the Corpus Christi Ship Channel through widening and deepening the waterway. In 2017, the project advanced to construction. The first phase was completed in February 2020, while Phase 2 wrapped up in July of this year. The third phase is expected to be completed in 2023, with completion of the final phase estimated for early 2025.

“My fellow Port of Corpus Christi commissioners and I are grateful to everyone who has advocated for this critical project over the past 30 years,” said Charles W. Zahn Jr., Port of Corpus Christi Commission chairman. “This truly is great progress, not only for the Port of Corpus Christi, but for the entire Coastal Bend region, because of the opportunities it will bring for future economic prosperity and growth.”