Congress authorizes expansion of Houston Ship Channel

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(HOUSTON) — On Monday, Congress passed the 2020 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). The bill formally authorized the expansion of the Houston Ship Channel, which was recently ranked the No. 1 U.S. port in total waterborne tonnage. The channel is the busiest waterway in the nation, averaging 50 deep-draft vessel transits every day.

The Houston Ship Channel and the public and private terminals along it moved nearly 285 million tons of cargo in 2019. That was almost 47 million tons more than any other U.S. port and a 6 percent increase compared to the previous year. To support this vital waterway’s continued growth, planning for the deepening and widening of the Houston Ship Channel has been Port Houston’s top priority for nearly a decade.

The Houston Ship Channel expansion, known as Project 11, will widen and deepen the channel for safer and more efficient navigation of vessels calling the port.

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Port Houston photo

The project also includes new environmental features to benefit channel users. “Project 11 is expected to improve regional air quality by increasing the efficiency of vessel movements and reducing potential congestion along the Houston Ship Channel. New bird islands and oyster reefs will be created as part of the project,” Port Houston Chairman Ric Campo said. “The bottom line is an expanded channel that will positively impact the flow of goods in and out of our region.”

The Houston Ship Channel supports 3.2 million jobs in the nation, with 1.35 million in Texas, and nationwide economic impact totaling $802 billion.

As the Houston Ship Channel’s non-federal sponsor, Port Houston has been the waterway’s advocate and strategic leader working in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Expansion of the channel has been Port Houston’s top priority for nearly a decade.

Along with Port Houston’s eight public terminals, there are more than 200 private facilities along the channel, and many of these stakeholders have actively participated in driving the expansion project forward.

– Port Houston

By Professional Mariner Staff