Houston Port Commissioners awarded recently a contract to TCB/GBA Joint Venture for professional engineering and planning services in support of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ feasibility study of modifications to improve the Houston Ship Channel system. That system includes the Houston, Barbours Cut and Bayport ship channels.
“This study is critical to the greater Port of Houston and will determine necessary improvements to continue moving commerce in our region,” said Executive Director Roger Guenther. The $3 million contract covers the minimum three-year study period. The Port of Houston is one of three ports in the nation selected for this congressional study.
The Port Commission has also approved the Port Authority’s Strategic Plan, which establishes a long-range plan for the organization, with a horizon of more than a decade. The plan was created through collaboration with external and internal stakeholders. Nick Davidson and Richard Batty from Leigh/Fisher, Inc. consultants gave a summary of the Strategic Plan.
In his monthly financial report to the Port Commission, Guenther said that the Port Authority’s Barbours Cut and Bayport container terminals were particularly busy in March. A combined 40 percent more loaded containers were handled in March, compared to a year ago.
Although cargo volumes and cash flows are doing well, Guenther emphasized the challenges with funding that the Port Authority will face over the next decade to build new facilities and maintain existing infrastructure to meet demands. “It is essential that we have public support for our infrastructure needs as we move forward,” he said.
Guenther gave an update on the progress of the new super post-panamax cranes destined for Barbours Cut Terminal, which are expected to arrive and begin offloading to the dock in early May. The cranes are currently in the Caribbean Sea and ready for the homestretch across the Gulf into Houston.
Chairman Janiece Longoria cited the efforts of U.S. Reps. Gene Green and Brian Babin and Sen. John Cornyn to ensure that the U.S. Army Corps has the legal directives it needs to address the Bayport Flare.
The Port Authority has been working with the Corps to improve both the safety and navigability of the Bayport Flare, which the Houston Pilots have identified as their top safety concern in the Houston Ship Channel system.