The Port Commission of the Port of Houston Authority awarded a $1.3 million construction contract to Grant MacKay Company, Inc. for the razing of selected buildings at Turning Basin Terminal.
The project includes demolition and removal of existing concrete and steel building structures at multiple locations at the Turning Basin, including asbestos abatement, security lighting, fencing and camera relocation. These are part of a redevelopment plan for the Turning Basin Terminal, which is expected to increase the value of the properties.
Additionally, in a move to ensure that Bayport and Barbours Cut channel and berthing area improvements remain on schedule for completion in 2014, the Port Commission approved advertising for and receiving bids, proposals or professional qualifications for the work.
Plans call for the channels and berths at the Bayport and Barbours Cut container facilities to be deepened to 45 feet to match the depth of the Houston Ship Channel.
Executive Director Len Waterworth reported that total tonnage for September is up 3 million tons or 1 percent and year to date, 27 million tons, up 3 percent. Container tonnage is at 1.5 million tons for the month, down 9 percent, a small “anomaly” that will be tracked, he said. Year to date, container tonnage is at 15 million tons, up 5 percent.
While steel is down, bulk cargo is rising, he said. Steel is at 402,000 tons for the month, down 17 percent, and 3.5 million tons year to date, down 19 percent. Bulk cargo is at 1 million tons for the month, up 33 percent, and 8.5 million tons year to date, up 18 percent.
Waterworth noted that operating revenue for September is $18 million, down 3 percent, due to the soft month in container tonnage. Year to date, operating revenue is $174 million, up 4 percent, due to a strong container growth for the year, which offset a decline in steel.
Operating expenses are $13 million or flat to the prior year, and $117 million year to date, up 3 percent. Net operating income is $2 million for the month, flat to the prior year, and $23 million year to date, up 14 percent, which he attributed to steady revenue performance combined with lower spending.
“Overall, Port Authority tonnage and finances are in very good shape,” Waterworth concluded.
In her introductory remarks, Port Commission Chairman Janiece Longoria welcomed new Port Commissioner Roy Mease, who was appointed by the city of Pasadena on Sept. 24. Mease holds the seat previously held by Steve Phelps, who had served as Port Commissioner since 1997. Commissioner Mease has a private law practice in Pasadena and served on the Pasadena City Council.
Longoria also announced Tuesday that the process of live-streaming Port Commission meetings was moving forward, with the selection of Swagit Productions, the firm also hired by Harris County Commissioners Court to live-stream meetings.
During the meeting, representatives from Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership, Economic Alliance Houston Port Region and the Houston Area Urban League shared information about their organizations and initiatives that are aligned with the mission of the Port Authority and thanked the Port Authority for its continuing support of maritime job training and small business development.
Roger Guenther, Deputy Director, Operations, reported on proposed tariff rate increases, which will be included in the Nov. 18 Port Commission meeting agenda. A 3 percent increase is proposed for Tariffs No. 8, 14 and 15. If approved, the increases would go into effect Jan. 1, 2014.
In her remarks, Longoria reported that Texas Southern University had honored PHA as one of its Legacy Partners of the Year. The partnership was instrumental in developing TSU’s Maritime Transportation Management and Security degree program, Houston’s first university degree program related to maritime transportation and security and the first such program at any HBCU (Historically Black University or College) in the nation.
“We are proud to partner with TSU in our mutual commitment to create jobs and economic development for our region,” Longoria said.
She also noted that the Port Authority, as sponsor of the 2014 American Association of Port Authorities Conference in Houston in commemoration of the Port of Houston’s centennial, hosted the prerequisite reception at this year’s AAPA conference in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Longoria also announced that the first cruise aboard the Caribbean Princess sails from PHA’s Bayport Cruise Terminal on Nov. 5. This inaugural cruise is a charity fundraiser, and it is expected to raise $1 million for two U.S. veterans’ organizations, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund and Operation Homefront. Longoria emphasized the economic benefit for the region that partnerships with both Princess Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line will bring, with more than 400,000 cruise passengers expected through 2016.
Press Release, October 24, 2013