Posted on November 10, 2023
The WEDA Gulf Coast Chapter (November 6-8),kicked off their annual event on the evening of November 6, 2023,with a networking event at the Grand Galvez hotel in Galveston. There were nearly 300 people registered to attend the conference. Conference presentations started with WEDA’s Gulf Coast President Dave Allen of GLDD giving welcoming and opening remarks. The Corp’s Galveston’s District Commander Col. Rhett A Blackman kicked off the event with an overview of the district’s vision.
Col. Rhett A. Blackman-Galveston District Commander
The Galveston district is responsible for maintaining federal navigation channels along the Texas coast, totaling 964 miles of channel. Texas ports have the highest port tonnage movement in the U.S. with over 381 million tons of which Houston accounts for 266.5 million tons. For FY 24 O&M and new work contracts there will be 16 maintenance dredging, 11 PA improvements, seven new works dredging and two new work PA improvement projects. This is in addition to the Project 11 which is moving towards the final phases of widening the channel by 170 ft from 530 ft to 700 ft along Galveston By and deepening some upstream sections to46.5 ft. This will finally allow for the safe passage of two-way vessel traffic and help handle the growing business of the Port. The Port of Houston currently generates $906 billion/year in national economic value and sustains more than three million U.S. jobs. The project is expected to be complete in 2026.
The Corp also discussed their key initiatives which include 13 Post Panamax Port deepening projects either on-going or funded, 12 Lock and Dam modernization/new construction projects on-going of funded and leveraging the capital investment strategy. In addition, the Corp is focusing on increasing the beneficial use of dredged material to 70% by 2030.
There were also presentations on additional channel improvements for Brazos Harbor Island, and Sabine-Neches Waterway deepening. GLDD has commenced to start phase I of the Brazos Harbor Island deepening project, which will deepen the 17-mile-long Brownsville ship channel from 42 to 52 ft, which will result in significant navigational safety improvements for commercial shipping in south Texas. Sabine-Neches Waterway projects will deepen the ship channel to 48 ft over a fifty-seven-mile stretch of channel which the Corp estimates will cost $1.4 billion. The three initial areas of the main channel to be deepened will be contracts 2A, 2B and 3. The first Phase RFQ for 2B has been posted and will close on November 27th.
Other presentations included expansion of The Port of Freeport, dredge technology innovation, beneficial use of dredged material, beach restoration, safety and an update from CPRA (Coastal Protection & Restoration Authority).
The Chapter hosted a dinner reception on the second night at the Bryan Museum, which is a historical museum on history of Texas and Galveston. There are world class collections, exhibitions and educational history and literacy programs to view.