Posted on January 7, 2021
The effort to deepen and widen the Houston Ship Channel recently reached a new milestone.
In late December, Congress passed the Water Resources Development Act of 2020 as part of the year-end omnibus and Covid-19 relief package. The federal legislation authorizes the Expansion Channel Improvement Project, the multiyear, multimillion-dollar effort to deepen and widen the Houston Ship Channel, a federal waterway.
The project, priced at nearly $1 billion, would widen the ship channel by 170 feet along its Galveston Bay reach to 700 feet. It would also deepen upstream segments of the channel to 45 feet. The deepening improvements would facilitate larger vessels to enter the channel, and a wider channel would allow for ships to more safely pass one another.
Ric Campo, chairman of the Port of Houston Authority and CEO of Houston-based Camden Property Trust (NYSE: CPT), said that the next step in the project’s delivery process will be securing a “new start” designation from the incoming Biden administration as well as discretionary funding from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
WRDA’s passing authorized the project to go forward but didn’t pay for it. A new start designation will allow the federal government to appropriate funds toward the improvement project. There is competition for new start designations and competition for federal appropriations, and Campo said there’s no real timetable for when the federal funding might be secured.