Army Corps of Engineers Gives Update on Port's Hurricane Recovery

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Posted September 11, 2017

The Port of Corpus Christi was shut down for nearly a week because of Hurricane Harvey. It has since reopened, but recovery efforts continue there as well.

Some vessels are passing through the ship channel, but the Port is open with restrictions. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers still has more work to do before the Port can fully re-open.

Today, a Commander from USACE Galveston District visited Corpus Christi to give an update on hurricane recovery efforts at the Port.

The Corps of Engineers still faces a task: making sure the ship channel is deep enough for vessels to safely travel. After a storm, it is possible that silt shifted around and changed the channel's depth. The Corps is continuing work so the Coast Guard can eventually sign off on a complete reopening of the Port.

"We're in the process of conducting these dredging operations now, we're looking at the production rates of the dredge, " said Col. Lars N. Zetterstrom P.E., Commander of the USACE 53rd Galveston District. "Once we're understanding exactly the characteristics and material that's in the channel, and how fast it can be removed, we'll be able to inform the pilots and the Coast Guard.

The current restricted opening of the ship channel, means ships must be able to navigate waters no deeper than 43-feet. Port traffic can only travel in one direction at any time. Most ships also need a minimum of two pilots, and can only travel during daylight hours.

This restricted opening does allow the Coastal Bend's seven refineries to start up again. They will be fully operational this week.

While there was much discussion about the Port's immediate recovery after Harvey, today's update focused on long-term plans as well.

For a long time, Port officials have been pushing to widen and deepen the ship channel. Last Friday, Port Commissioners signed off on advancing $32 million to start up that project.

Today, they discussed how this would let bigger vessels come into the Port, and boost economic growth in South Texas.