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Port of Galveston gearing up for new business

Galveston Wharves port director and CEO Rodger Rees

Posted on March 20, 2024

Port of Galveston has a reputation as the “Port of Everything” and is gearing up its West Port Complex to handle even more of everything.

Sandwiched between two of America’s busiest and most prominent ports—New Orleans and Houston — Galveston Wharves is ramping up for a new generation of growth by focusing on a modern era of marine cargoes.

What began as a lone trading post 200 years ago in 1825 on land owned and controlled by Mexico, and slowly grew into an active grain, bulk liquid and bulk fertilizer gateway, Galveston Wharves, the rebranded name for Port of Galveston, is gearing up for further expansion and revenue diversification with creative marketing and serious spending that has already attracted a new generation of global shippers and vessels. Port leadership isn’t content with going slow.

West Port Complex

Today, Galveston Wharves sits on 840 acres of land fronting the deepwater Galveston Harbor. But not for long. Guided by a 20-year strategic master plan financed by revenues, bonds, and state grants—the 50,000 person Texas city does not contribute a dollar in taxes to its port—the area is spending $50.1 million to modernize and expand its West Port Cargo Complex.

“We are growing our business like never before,” Galveston Wharves port director and CEO Rodger Rees, told the American Journal of Transportation in an exclusive interview. Funded by $42.3 million state of Texas grants and $14.1 million in port funds, Rees says port staff has “already prepared engineering design and partial construction drawings for enclosure walls, a 1,340 foot-long-berth across two open slips and concrete paving.”

A future phase will include filling in two slips behind the enclosure walls which will add 14 acres for cargo operation, he says. Plans call for adding another 15-acres after demolishing an approximately 100-year-old grain elevator. The construction and expansion of the West Port Cargo Complex will add about one-third in size bringing the new total cargo operating area to about 90 acres.

“A major focus of the master plan is expanding our cargo business by increasing acreage at the Complex, but a top priority is improving decaying waterfront infrastructure after decades of neglect,” says Rees who is now in his sixth year as port chief, after serving five years as chief financial officer at Port Canaveral in Florida.

He added that the port is also “nearing completion of a two-mile long $3.15 million interior roadway reconstruction to move cruise and cargo traffic more efficiently, while helping alleviate congestion on nearby downtown roadways.”

Port of Everything

Indeed, Galveston Wharves is not making its changes from a standing start. It has long been known as the “Port of Everything.” It shares its space as an import and export center on the Gulf with a waterfront tourist area with restaurants and museums and three cruise terminals with a fourth to open next year.


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