Major Milestone for Houston Ship Channel Expansion

The Galveston District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers received a signed Chief of Engineers Report (Chief’s Report) for the proposed Houston Ship Channel (HSC) Expansion Project on April 23.

Image source: USACE

Signed April 24 by Lt. Gen. Todd T. Semonite, USACE Chief of Engineers and Commanding General, the report culminates a four-year, $10 million study conducted by USACE in partnership with Port Houston to identify needed channel improvements, determine economic value to the nation, and complete necessary environmental requirements.

The signed report recommends adoption of the plan presented by Galveston District in order to support economic efficiency of commercial navigation throughout the Houston Ship Channel System.

“This is a major milestone for this project, for the Corps, and for the Houston Port Authority,” said Col. Timothy Vail, USACE Galveston District Commander.

“The signature of the Chief of Engineers says that, after considering all the options, the Corps believes this is the best plan to achieve funding and construction. The Chief’s Report will be submitted to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works for review. Following review, it will then be submitted to Congress for authorization and funding in the next Water Resources Development Act, which is expected to be considered later this year. Once approved by Congress and signed by the President, the Houston Ship Channel expansion becomes a federal project, and we can move on to design and construction.”

The Chief’s Report recommends a comprehensive plan that includes modifications to the 50-mile-long Houston Ship Channel System including easing bends, widening the bay reach of the Houston Ship Channel to 700 feet, and widening the Bayport Ship Channel and Barbours Cut Channel to 455 feet.

Modifications to the bayou reach of the Houston Ship Channel would include deepening from Boggy Bayou to the Main Turning Basin, with selective widening between Boggy Bayou and Greens Bayou.

The project will also provide environmental benefits by using material dredged during channel construction to create over 400 acres of tidal marsh and bird island habitat and approximately 377 acres of oyster reef in Galveston Bay.