Port Commission Greenlights Houston Ship Channel Expansion Work

Houston Ship ChannelImage Courtesy: U.S. Coast Guard/PA2 Johanna Strickland

The Port Commission of the Port of Houston Authority has authorized “critical-path” professional services for the Houston Ship Channel expansion project.

The widening and deepening of the ship channel, the busiest in the United States, is needed for improved safety and the future growth of regional and national commerce.

Specifically, the ship channel expansion work approved by the port commission includes critical-path professional services for engineering, design and project coordination. The contract approved by the commission was in an amount not to exceed USD 5.5 million and was awarded to TC&B/GBA, a joint venture of Turner Collie & Braden and Gahagan & Bryant Associates.

Given significant demand from industry to take advantage of current economic conditions and facilitate future growth, the Port of Houston Authority has proposed an expedited schedule whereby dredging could begin by 2021 and the project be completed in 2024.

The channel widening, along with deepening in some sections, is the eleventh and next major ship channel expansion project. The last widening and deepening of the channel was completed in 2005.

What is more, the port authority has approved a contract for three new Neopanamax electric cranes for the Bayport Container Terminal. The USD 35 million dockside cranes are intended for Bayport’s Wharf No. 5.

The three new ship-to-shore (STS) cranes are expected to be operational in the summer of 2021 and will be the tallest to date for Port Houston, standing at 48 meters under the spreader and will be capable of handling 18,000 TEU-sized containerships. They will bring the port’s fleet of STS cranes to 29.

Roger Guenther, Port Houston Executive Director, noted during Tuesday’s meeting that the growth experienced recently at the port is continuing.

“Operationally, our facilities have handled close to 30 million tons of cargo through August, an increase of 7 percent over last year as both container volumes and steel have maintained their upward trends in 2019,” Guenther reported.

The number of container TEUs handled through August totaled nearly two million, an increase of 11 percent compared to this time last year. Guenther said he expects to approach three million by the end of this year.

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