Freeport dredging project kicks off

Port Freeport, a major deep-water seaport in Texas, yesterday celebrated a historic milestone with a ceremonial groundbreaking for the Freeport Harbor Channel Improvement Project.

Distinguished guests and members of the community were present for an open-air event on April 8, 2021, commemorating the commencement of dredging the channel from its current 46 feet to depths ranging from 51 to 56 feet.

The channel deepening project has been a strategic initiative for Port Freeport for many years, receiving Congressional authorization in 2014. The area’s ongoing industrial expansion fueled by the production of shale oil and gas and the port’s proximity to fast-growing populations have intensified the need for this project.

“The Freeport Harbor Channel Improvement Project is a long-time-coming, and I am proud to usher in a new era for Port Freeport as it becomes the deepest port in Texas,” U.S. Congressman Randy Weber said.

Dredge Carolina lowered into the Freeport Channel/Port Freeport

Port Freeport was one of two seaports nationwide to receive a “new start” designation in February 2020 for commencement of construction. In June, Port Freeport entered into a Project Partnership Agreement (PPA) with the USACE, with the first dredging contract signed in September.

The estimated total cost of the project is $295 million, of which the federal government share is $165 million. Port Freeport as the local sponsor will contribute the remaining $130 million to be funded by the 2018 voter-approved bond package. To date, Port Freeport has received $43.9 million in federal funding for the project.

The project will take approximately five years to complete, coinciding with the 100th anniversary of Port Freeport being created by the voters of Brazoria County, who in 1925 recognized the importance of diverting the Brazos River, so the region would have a reliable, deepwater port for the movement of commerce.

“I am grateful to those who had the bold vision and fortitude to divert the Brazos River to give this area a deep-water port advantageous for economic prosperity,” Phyllis Saathoff, Port Freeport Executive Director/CEO, said. “Now it is our turn to deliver the deep-water port for future generations. A deeper, wider channel will allow for safer navigation for modern ships and will accommodate the larger, global vessels in service today.”

Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company, LLC will perform the dredging on Reach 3 with work to be completed this summer.

Photo: Port Freeport