Port of Huston Authority has been granted permission by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to start the dredging of two links (the Bayport and Barbours Cut channel) to the Houston Ship Channel. The Port Authority aims to keep the position of the channel as Panama Canal is being expanded.
The construction plan has a budget of $68 million. It includes deepening (from 40 to 45 ft), widening (up to 100 ft) and realigning the waterways, connecting its two container terminals, to match the Houston Ship Channel depth, in order to accommodate larger vessels. The two terminals are the busiest on the Gulf Coats, generating more than 60 % of the annual operating revenue of the port.
Janiece Longoria, Port Commission Chairman, said:
"We are investing in the future of our port. The project demonstrates our commitment to facilitating commerce."
The Corps' permission was announced yesterday, four years after the Port of Houston Authority began preparing to ask for it. The construction contract will be awarded to Orion Construction and the works are due to begin at the end of the month. The expansion is expected to have finished by the middle of 2015.
The executive director of the Port of Houston Authority, Roger Guenther, commented:
"The need to bring larger vessels into Houston seemed to be happening quickly, so we acted in this manner. Combined with the Panama Canal, it is going to allow for larger ships and certainly increase our opportunities for being the first port of call in the Gulf from East Asia."
Houston Ship Channel is periodically being expanded to accommodate larger and larger vessels. Its width is 160 m (530 ft), its depth – 14 m (45 ft) with length of 80 km (50 miles).