Cloud: Trump wants $100 million for Port of Corpus Christi widening project in 2021

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The Port of Corpus Christi intends to widen this entryway, near Port Aransas, that leads into the port. This is an aerial view of the area in 2018. (Photo: Contributed photo)

Posted February 12, 2020

The Trump administration has included in its 2021 budget proposal $100 million for the Port of Corpus Christi to support its effort to widen and deepen its ship channel.

U.S. Rep. Michael Cloud, whose district includes the port and Corpus Christi, said in a statement late Monday the funding could be a part of the president's $4.8 trillion FY2021 budget.

“I’m thankful President Trump has once again prioritized funding for the Port of Corpus Christi’s Channel Improvement Project in this year’s budget," said Cloud, R-Victoria. "Investment into the port is vital for economic growth in Texas and the United States. The port also plays a strategic role in our country’s position as the global energy leader.

"As we export more American oil and gas, our allies are less dependent on Russia and Iran for those needs. Thank you to Port leadership and all those who’ve worked to bring the project this far.”

Funding for the project was listed among those requested in the president's Budget for the Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works program.

In May, the port formally broke ground on the $380 million project, which aims to widen and deepen the Corpus Christi Ship Channel.

Scope of the project

The port has seen phenomenal growth since Congress lifted a 40-year ban on crude oil exports that was put into place in 1975 by President Gerald Ford. That ban was lifted in late 2015, allowing the nation's first shipment of crude oil to be exported from the Port of Corpus Christi.

The project involves dredging the channel to 54 feet and widening it to 530 feet. The endgame for the port would be to accommodate larger vessels and two-way traffic.

The port ended 2019 with record tonnages for December of 13.8 million cargo tons, and 122.2 million cargo tons for the entire year — a 16-million-ton improvement over 2018 tonnages.

Port officials say a lion's share of the growth is attributed to increases in energy exports of crude oil and liquefied natural gas.

Cloud met with President Donald Trump aboard Air Force One in October 2018, while the president was campaigning for Ted Cruz in Houston. Cloud appealed to Trump for help with getting the port's project funded and underway.

The next day, the president asked his staff during a televised news conference to help Texas ports get their infrastructure projects done. Prior to that call, Trump was the first sitting U.S. president to propose funding for the port in his proposed President's Budget for Fiscal Year 2019.

To date, nearly $100 million has been secured from the federal government for the channel expansion. The $92 million contract for the first phase was awarded in December to Great Lakes Dredge and Dock.