Galveston Wharves Secures $42.3 Million State Funding Boost for Vital Cargo and Transportation Initiatives
In a groundbreaking development, the Galveston Wharves has secured a remarkable $42.3 million in state funding to propel essential cargo infrastructure projects and restore a crucial section of the port’s interior roadway, along with an enclosed pedestrian walkway over Harborside Drive (State Highway 275).
This substantial allocation was approved during the September 28 meeting of the Texas Transportation Commission, the governing body for the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). It came as a recommendation from TxDOT’s Port Authority Advisory Committee (PAAC) and will be channeled into three pivotal projects outlined in the port’s comprehensive 20-Year Strategic Master Plan.
Rodger Rees, the Port Director and CEO of Galveston Wharves, expressed enthusiasm for the transformative potential of these projects, stating, “These shovel-ready projects will expand our cargo business, improve traffic flow, and make it safer for pedestrians to access cruise operations and downtown Galveston.”
Rees went on to emphasize the historic nature of this funding, which marks the largest financial injection ever received by the port. He attributed this achievement to years of collaboration between the port, TxDOT, and the PAAC. Moreover, he highlighted the instrumental role played by the 88th Texas Legislature in making this major economic investment possible by allocating a staggering $640 million for both internal and external infrastructure projects within port precincts and enhancements to Texas ports’ ship channels.
Cargo Complex Advancements
A significant portion of the funding, amounting to $36 million, will be directed towards the West Port Cargo Complex. With the port contributing $14.1 million, this $50.1 million project will address aging infrastructure by constructing enclosure walls, a 1,340-foot-long berth spanning two open slips, and concrete paving. This expansion will create new berthing areas for cargo and lay ships, fostering job growth and generating additional revenue for the port. Anticipated to commence in 2024, the project is slated for completion by 2026.
Internal Roadway Reconstruction – $3.15 Million
The state has allocated $2.5 million to support the fourth segment of the port’s internal roadway improvements, situated between 33rd and 41st streets. The port will contribute $655,000 as matching funds. This expansion of the roadway on the far west end of the port will enhance access to the West Port Cargo Complex and divert cruise traffic from Harborside Drive (Texas State Highway 275), thus alleviating congestion in the downtown area.
Pedestrian Walkway Over Harborside Drive – $3.85 Million
A portion of the state funding, amounting to $3.85 million, will be directed towards the restoration and reopening of the enclosed walkway over Harborside Drive at 25th Street. This vital initiative will provide safe access to cruise terminals 25 and 28, the Shearn Moody Plaza parking garage, and the Strand Historic District for cruise passengers, workers, and the public. The walkway, which has been closed for approximately two decades, will undergo structural enhancements, interior improvements, and the installation of elevators and escalators at Cruise Terminal 25 and the parking garage.
Rees underscored the significance of this development, stating, “Reopening this walkway will give passengers, waterfront workers, and visitors safe, convenient access to the port and downtown.”
In conclusion, Rees acknowledged that these critical projects would not have been possible without the generous funding allocation from the 88th Texas Legislature, and he expressed gratitude to key stakeholders, including Governor Greg Abbott, Senator Mayes Middleton, the Texas Transportation Commission, the PAAC, TxDOT staff, and the Galveston Wharves Board of Trustees for their unwavering support in advancing these crucial initiatives.