Houston Ship Channel expansion approved

Officials at the Port of Houston have approved a $450m budget to support the expansion of the significant US waterway the Houston Ship Channel.

The Port Commission of the Port of Houston Authority met last week for a special session where they awarded two large contracts to Weeks Marine and Curtin Maritime Corp. Those contracts totalled $430m and will pay for the completion of the remaining Galveston Bay segments of the Houston Ship Channel expansion project. The Port Commission approved $20m as “other” agenda items that will support the channel expansion project, which is officially known as “Project 11”.

Weeks Marine and Curtin Maritime Corporation were “the top proposers in all of these areas – best schedules, lowest costs and estimated NOx emissions, and most S/MWBE inclusion,” Executive Director Roger Guenther said in his report, adding that “nearly 32% of the contracts will go to S/MWBE (Small, Minority and Woman-owned Business Enterprise) companies, furthering our commitment to business equity, which is a priority for Port Houston.”

More vessels use the 52-mile Houston Ship Channel than the next three largest US ports – Los Angeles, Long Beach, and New York/New Jersey – combined.

Port Houston and the US Army Corps of Engineers began the $1bn expansion of the Houston Ship Channel earlier this month. Project 11 will widen the Houston Ship Channel by 170ft along its Galveston Bay reach, from 530 ft to 700 ft, and also deepen some upstream segments to 46.5ft.

Project 11 is 82% funded, with efforts continuing to secure the remaining federal funds. The project is scheduled to complete in 2025.