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Port of Galveston enters new era of cargo growth

Rodger Rees

Posted on June 3, 2024

We’re on the cusp of a new era of cargo growth for Galveston. For the first time in decades, the Galveston Wharves and its partners have the opportunity to develop our cargo business to its full potential, generating hundreds of new jobs and tremendous economic growth for the region.

We’re making it possible by building strong partnerships, generating cash reserves from our cruise business, and executing our 20-Year Strategic Master Plan. Our vision is to update decaying or underused infrastructure and to maximize undeveloped acreage to grow our cargo business.

Some of these improvements will begin this year. Other potential developments are still in the early stages. It may take a decade, but I believe that the following projects will transform the port and boost our cargo business for generations to come.


The port is investing more than $90 million to add 30 acres for cargo handling and laydown area by enclosing and filling slips at piers 38/39 and 40/41 and by replacing decayed, unusable docks. This will allow the port to meet tenant demand to grow roll-on, roll-off-project cargo and breakbulk cargo businesses.

Beginning this summer, the phased work will include filling and paving two outdated slips and building a new berth the length of four football fields. It will be funded with port cash reserves and a $36 million Texas Department of Transportation grant.


We also expect to begin thedemolition of a decommissioned grain elevator at Pier 30/33 this year to expand the West Port Cargo Complex. Even before demolition is completed, we’ll use some of the space for cargo. Another benefit is we may be able to use some of the concrete rubble as fill for the slips.


The Galveston Wharves and the Port of Houston Authority have formed a joint team to explore development opportunities on Pelican Island under a memorandum of understanding approved by both governing bodies.

The Galveston Wharves owns more than 300 undeveloped acres on Pelican Island, including 2,500 linear feet of shoreline with deep-water access. The Port of Houston Authority owns nearly 1,000 acres adjacent to the Galveston Wharves property.

This move is mutually beneficial and forward-looking. Both ports have long held undeveloped acreage on Pelican Island, so it makes sense to look at ways to work together to identify opportunities.


One major hurdle to developing hundreds of acres on Pelican Island is its decaying, 60-year-old bridge. Building a new bridge will create growth opportunities for the Galveston Wharves, while providing safe, reliable transportation infrastructure for the major maritime industries and the Texas A&M University campus located on the island.

Fulfilling this vision is going to take time, money and tenacity, but I believe we can do it. And it’s certainly worth it. Building up our cargo business ensures a strong, diversified port and more good-paying jobs for everyone involved in moving cargo in and out of the Port of Galveston.

Rodger Rees is Galveston Wharves port director and CEO.


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