Federal funding will help Port of Galveston reach its deep-water port potential

Written by Nick Blenkey
dedge in Galveston ship channel

Callan Marine dredge General Patton in the Galveston Ship Channel

“For the first time in decades, the Port of Galveston will be able to reach its full economic and commercial potential as a deep-water port,” says port director and CEO Rodger Rees, noting that the recently passed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) includes substantial funding for dredging to extend and maintain the federal Galveston Ship Channel to its permitted depth of 46 feet.

“This federal commitment is a game changer for the Galveston Wharves, its tenants and private operators on the channel,” says Rees.

Rodger Rees

According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the IIJA appropriation will provide an estimated $11 million in federal funding for dredging. In addition to federally funded maintenance, the Galveston Wharves spends more than $1 million annually to maintain depths along is berths.

The federal project will extend the 46-foot depths to the end of the Galveston Ship Channel, allowing vessels calling on privately operated terminals along the final 2,500 feet of the channel to access the permitted depths.

The federal budget also includes $25 million for maintenance.

“This would be the largest maintenance funding ever allocated for the Galveston Ship Channel, which is ranked among the top 50 U.S. waterways based on cargo tonnage,” says Rees. “This channel extension and maintenance project will increase cargo activity, strengthen the port’s competitiveness, create more and better jobs, improve operational safety, and reduce emissions. The deepened channel will be able to accommodate larger vessels, which is important as ships continue to increase in size.:

Moving more cargo through the channel is expected to make the port eligible for even more federal funding.

“We’ve been working on this for a long time,” says Rees. “The project was designed, engineered and approved in 2016, but has been pending federal funding. Having a shovel-ready project means that it can proceed without delay.”

Planned for 2023, the joint project of the Corps and the Galveston Wharves has an estimated total cost of $12 million to $14 million. As the project’s non-federal sponsor, Galveston Wharves participated in project planning and will contribute a portion of project costs.

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