The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has awarded the fourth and final contract of the Port of Corpus Christi Ship Channel Improvement Project (CIP) to Callan Marine, Ltd., signaling the conclusion of a national infrastructure initiative that will render the ship channel the most improved waterway along the U.S. Gulf Coast from Texas to Florida.
“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, Chief Executive Officer 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 of the CIP. A massive undertaking between the USACE, Port of Corpus Christi and private marine companies, the CIP yielded more than 40 million cubic yards of dredge material that will be used in the construction of beneficial use sites for wildlife and erosion control.
“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, USACE Galveston District Commander. “I’m especially proud that more than 90% of the new work dredged material in this contract is staying within the system, through our beneficial use program.”
When the Port of Corpus Christi opened in 1926, four years after it was created by voters as Nueces County Navigation District No. 1, the Corpus Christi Ship Channel had been dredged to a depth of 25 feet and a width of 200 feet. The channel has since been expanded several times, with the CIP increasing that depth to 54 feet Mean Lower Low Water (MLLW) and a new width of 530 feet, with additional barge shelves also being constructed.
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.”