The Army Corps of Engineers has permitted construction of the Houston Port Authority's Bayport and Barbours Cut channel improvement projects, and approved the federal assumption of maintenance of the channels when construction is completed.
The improvement projects at the port’s two container terminals will deepen the channels from 40 feet to 45 feet, matching the depth of the Houston Ship Channel. The project will also widen and realign the channels by up to 100 feet to better accommodate larger ships, which are expected to call with increasing frequency, the port authority said.
The port authority expects to award the $68 million construction contract to Orion Construction this week and begin construction and dredging shortly. The work includes modification of the existing Bayport and Barbours Cut channels and berths, and increasing capacity of a placement area for future dredged material.
"Overall, the project has really progressed at a quick pace,” said Executive Director Roger Guenther, in a statement. “The federal approval of assumption of maintenance, which means the Corps of Engineers will resume responsibility for the channel after PHA's improvements, was a great team effort between the Corps and PHA on a complicated process that has taken only 18 months."
The port authority is funding the projects at its sole cost to ensure the channels improvements are available as soon as possible to better accommodate larger, more efficient container ships, and in advance of the opening of an expanded Panama Canal in 2016. The work is expected to be completed in the second quarter of next year.
For more details about the Port of Houston’s operations and other recent developments, read the May issue of American Shipper
article, “Houston port’s energy boost
,” pages 54-57.