The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has permitted construction of the Port Authority’s Bayport and Barbours Cut channel improvement projects and approved the federal assumption of maintenance of the channels when construction is completed.
The improvement projects at the Port Authority’s two container terminals will deepen the channels from 40 feet to 45 feet, matching the depth of the Houston Ship Channel, so the container terminals can realize the benefits of the HSC widening and deepening project completed in 2005. The project will also widen or realign the channels by up to 100 feet to better accommodate larger ships that are expected to call with increasing frequency.
“This is great news,” said Port Commission Chairman Janiece Longoria, “We are investing in the future of our port. The projects demonstrate our commitment to facilitating commerce. I sincerely congratulate the Port Authority staff for its diligent efforts working with PHA’s stakeholders, the community and the Corps to get these projects readied for construction.”
PHA expects to award the $68 million construction contract to Orion Construction this week and start construction and dredging soon afterward. The work includes modification of the existing Bayport and Barbours Cut channels and berths and increasing capacity of a placement area for future dredged material.
“PHA is pleased that we will be awarding a contract at an excellent, competitive price,” said Executive Director Roger Guenther. “Overall, the project has really progressed at a quick pace. The federal approval of assumption of maintenance, which means the Corps of Engineers will resume responsibility for the channel after PHA’s improvements, was a great team effort between the Corps and PHA on a complicated process that has taken only 18 months.”
The Port Authority is funding the projects at its sole cost to ensure the channels improvements are available as soon as possible to better accommodate larger, more efficient container ships, and in advance of the opening of an expanded Panama Canal in 2016. The work is expected to be completed in the second quarter of next year.