Port Freeport in Texas received a positive report from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ chief to deepen and widen its harbor channel.
The Freeport Harbor Channel Improvement Project (FHCIP) has been an 11-year effort between the Corps and port authority.
The report will now be transmitted to Congress and recommends the project because it will contribute to the economic efficiency of commercial navigation in the region.
“This channel will help encourage additional investment in southern Brazoria County, help us attract even larger vessels to this area, retaining and creating more jobs and opportunity for local communities,” said Port Freeport Executive Port Director and Chief Executive Officer Glenn Carlson in a statement. “This positive chief’s report will now open the door to federal funding for the project. Now it is up to Congress to allocate the funds.”
At its current depth of 45 feet, the port and local industry’s operational partnerships raised the economic impact of the port’s current channel from $10.2 billion per year to $17.9 billion within a three-year period. The new channel could do more by attracting even larger ships and this additional vessel capacity is reflected in the Corps' estimates which place the returns on the channel investment at almost two to one. The channel will also offer many benefits to Port Freeport, including improved navigation and safety, the port authority said.
“The new deeper, wider channel is just a few years away. Once completed, it will offer a safer, faster transit to ships with even larger payloads – saving both time and money,” Port Commission Chairman Bill Terry said. “The economic impact and long-term benefits of this project to regional liner shipping companies, along with our local chemical and energy partners can’t be overstated.”
Port Freeport’s next step will be to begin the estimated three-year preliminary engineering process with the Corps and seek federal funding to deepen the Freeport Harbor Channel to a depth of 55 feet from its current 45 feet.