The Port Commission of the Port of Houston Authority met in special session earlier this week and moved to accelerate widening of the Houston Ship Channel, the nation’s busiest waterway.
“The Houston Ship Channel is open for business for all and will continue to be,” said Port of Houston Authority Chairman, Ric Campo, during the meeting.
The Port Authority is working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and other representatives of the federal government, as well as Port of Houston and Houston Ship Channel stakeholders, to obtain authorization and accelerated funding and completion, of a deepened and widened ship channel.
This project will be the eleventh significant widening and deepening of the channel since its conception, according to the port.
At the meeting, the commission was briefed on measures to make sure widening of the entire Galveston Bay reach of the ship channel is part of the next Houston Ship Channel dredging project. The commission also directed staff to bring it proposals for Port Authority and industry funding to support this accelerated effort.
Traffic efficiency group
During the meeting, the commission also budgeted $500,000 to support a traffic efficiency group for the channel.
This newly-formed advisory committee representing multiple channel stakeholders will meet regularly and work in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard Houston Area Vessel Traffic Service, the Lone Star Harbor Safety Committee, the Houston Pilots, and others.
The goal of the group will be to share data and insights and help optimize traffic flow on the channel, in response to continued requests for larger vessels to serve the fast-growing demand of containerized consumer imports, resin and agriculture exports, and the needs of the energy industry.
Since being named Chairman in February, Campo has met with numerous industry stakeholders including shippers, and on March 8 testified on channel matters before the Senate Select Committee on Texas Ports.