Posted on October 5, 2023
Thirty-one ports in Texas will begin receiving an estimated $240 million in state funds to improve those facilities and bolster the state’s supply chains.
The Maritime Infrastructure Program will provide $200 million for port development, and $40 million will come from the Seaport Connectivity Program for highway and other public transportation roadway funding.
“Texas ports play a critical role in our state’s booming economy, helping Texas continue to drive America’s economy and remain a hub for international trade,” Abbott said. “I thank the Texas Legislature for bringing this legislation to my desk and the Texas Transportation Commission for approving this crucial funding to ensure Texas has the infrastructure needed to support America’s supply chain and promote continued economic growth and activity.”
In all, the 31 projects will get state funding, with 12 getting $200 million for building truck queuing areas, dock rehabilitation and expansion, and rail expansion. The remaining 19 projects will get $40 million for roadway-related projects.
“This unprecedented funding is great news for Texans and will be critical for the robust port development and expansion happening along our Gulf Coast communities, including right here in Texas House District 21,” House Speaker Dade Phelan said. “As the Texas economy continues to thrive, it is essential that the state prioritizes investments toward our ports, roads and rails, and this is an important step toward maintaining that commitment.”
In June, Abbott signed into law Senate Bill 30, authorizing additional funding to bolster Texas ports, which he said contributes $450 billion in economic activity statewide and supports 1.8 million jobs. On an annual basis, $906 billion is contributed to the national economy, up 13% from a previous survey in 2018, according to the port.
“Texas has two of the three largest ports in the U.S. based on tonnage, so this will not only benefit Texans, but the entire nation,” Texas Department of Transportation Executive Director Marc Williams said. “The unprecedented funding commitment by Gov. Abbott, the Texas Legislature, and the commission benefits the entire Texas port system and serves as a catalyst for job creation, business development and a more resilient supply chain.”
The state money the Texas ports are receiving comes after the federal government committed more than $17 billion as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The money will go toward new cranes to accommodate significantly larger ships, dredging and widening shipping channels, adding intermodal rail spurs, widening and upgrading roads and installing charging ports to handle what is expected to be an increase in battery-electric trucks.
Even as the nation’s ports have seen a significant downturn in business as imports and exports have slumped from the pandemic highs of 2021 and 2022, Port Houston has continued to show significant year-over-year growth, and that facility is going through a multibillion-dollar upgrade to keep up with the demand and prepare for the future.
Phase 2 of the $1 billion dredging and widening of the Houston Shipping Channel began in February. Port officials say by 2025 the channel will be widened by 170 feet to 700 feet by next year and deepened to 46.5 feet, which will reduce congestion and allow for unrestricted two-way traffic of larger ships.
In addition to the waterway improvements at the facility, an additional $1.5 billion is being spent in land and side-related investments.
Government leaders have come to realize the critical importance of ports to the international and national economies, he told Transport Topics, and money is being spent to upgrade the facilities.
“In recent years, the bipartisan federal momentum to modernize and fund the infrastructure is clearly having multiplier effects, with multiple states now dedicating sizable portions of their budgets to ports and this is in addition to the money coming from Washington,” Davis said. “The federal investments helped unlock and leverage the state and local funding as well as the private investment.”