Posted on November 8, 2023
Two Houston-area ports will soon see a combined $26.9 million worth of projects come to fruition thanks to federal grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration.
Cedar Port in Baytown will receive nearly $10.9 million for its infrastructure development project, and Port Freeport in southern Brazoria County will receive nearly $16 million for its Velasco Terminal Sustainable Expansion Project. The two projects are part of a larger $653 million effort that will fund 41 port improvement projects under the Port Infrastructure Development Program.
“Everything from the food we eat to the cars we drive to the lumber and steel used to build our homes passes through America’s ports, making them some of the most critical links in our nation’s supply chain,” U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said in a statement. “These investments will help expand capacity and speed up the movement of goods through our ports, contributing to cleaner air and more good-paying jobs as we go.”
The Velasco Terminal Sustainable Expansion Project in Freeport includes a new 36,900-square-foot warehouse, related improvements on the 10-acre site and a new terminal access truck gate. The goal of the new warehouse is to help with congestion, enabling cargo to be unloaded, sorted and loaded onto trucks without interference.
Meanwhile, the Cedar Port project will expand and upgrade the existing barge dock to include dredging of the channel adjacent to the construction site. The work will also create an additional 800 feet of mooring space and six additional barge slots. The project will also construct a “heavy haul road” to connect the barge dock to Cedar Port Industrial Park’s tenant area, a fact sheet said.
The 15,000-acre TGS Cedar Port Industrial Park is the largest master-planned, rail- and barge-served industrial park in the United States and fifth-largest industrial park in the world, according to its website. In September, Dallas-based Stream Realty Partners completed a 1 million-square-foot speculative development in the industrial park. It consists of two warehouses at 4838 and 4908 Borusan Road.
The DOT said the goal for all of the 41 projects is to “strengthen supply chain reliability, create workforce development opportunities, speed up the movement of goods, and improve the safety, reliability and resilience of ports.” These goals were also part of the selection criteria for the funding.
In a statement, Maritime Administrator Ann Phillips said these projects will help address negative impacts of port operations on public health and the environments of surrounding communities.
“Modernizing the nation’s port infrastructure is vital to the reinforcement of America’s multimodal system for transporting goods,” Phillips said. “The advantages of cargo movement on water extend well beyond the maritime domain.”
The investments are being supported through the approximately $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law that President Biden signed in late 2021.
When it comes to neighboring Port Houston, the $91.6 million Bayport Container Terminal Expansion was completed in August. The project, also known as Wharf 6, was made possible through a $21.84 million grant as part of the Port Infrastructure Development Program.
Project 11 — Port Houston’s massive expansion project — also is currently underway. The project, which has a total cost of $1 billion across multiple phases, will expand the 52-mile stretch of the Houston Ship Channel to up to 700 feet wide in several sections.
The first portion of the project, Segment 1A, which runs from Bolivar to Redfish, was completed in February 2023 on schedule and on budget. Project 11 is expected to fully be completed by 2025.
Additionally, Port Houston is working to move its headquarters to a new 95,000-square-foot space in Houston-based Midway’s East River mixed-use development.
The new building will be six floors and will house various Port Houston departments such as government relations, community relations, public relations and human resources, among others. It is expected to break ground in spring 2024 and has an anticipated completion date of summer 2025.