The Bayport expansion was prominently mentioned by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) as a prime “example of a project that will help jumpstart local and national economic growth,” in its announcement that $474 million for 52 TIGER grants had been awarded to 37 states this year. In this latest round, more than $100 million, or around 21 percent of total funding, went directly or indirectly to port-related projects. This is the fifth round of TIGER funding. Grants are awarded on a competitive basis.
“This is welcome news,” said Port Authority Executive Director Len Waterworth. “We appreciate the federal government’s acknowledgement of the Port of Houston as one of the nation’s busiest ports. These funds will help our efforts as we expand to meet future demand in this growing and dynamic marketplace.”
The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) echoed support for this year’s round of grants, citing TIGER grants as “the only general federal funding source available for port-related infrastructure.” AAPA has a policy position that 25 percent of TIGER grants should be awarded to port-related infrastructure.
The grant will help fund the extension of Bayport’s wharf from 3,300 to 4,000 feet, extending a stable platform against which container ships can be moored and support cranes used to work the ships that call. Once the extension is complete, the Port Authority plans to purchase three new electric, rail-mounted gantry cranes to handle the increase in container throughput.
The project will allow Bayport to handle more than 2 million 20-foot-equivalent units (TEUs), doubling its present capacity, and will help support international trade with more than 1,000 ports in more than 200 countries. The Port of Houston is the nation’s No. 1 export port in cargo dollar value and the anchor port for the nation’s leading exporting state for the past 11 years.
Environmental as well as economic benefits will be realized by the expansion. Increased productivity as a result of the expansion is projected to reduce truck waiting and idling times by an estimated 7.6 minutes on average. Increased container-handling capacity will help fortify the Port of Houston’s position as the No. 1 container-handling port on the U.S. Gulf Coast.