Port of Corpus Christi ship channel improvement underway
Big changes are underway as the Port of Corpus Christi’s $353-million-dollar ship channel improvement project is in full swing. The aim is to expand the Port of Corpus Christi ship channel to 530 feet wide by 52 feet deep. Port of Corpus Christ Harbormaster Russell Cordo says the Port is dedicated to completing the project by 2021.
“A lot of people don’t realize that the project consists of four elements, two of which are already complete,” says Cordo.
Those two elements include the expansion of the Port’s La Quinta Channel, which was extended by 1.4 miles and widened to 400 feet wide by 45 feet deep; the soil removed from the La Quinta expansion then was reused for a 200-acre beneficial use site. The second element consisted of an ecosystem restoration project that created a 2200-foot offshore breakwater, which helps protect 45 acres of existing seagrass beds from waves and currents that cause frequent erosion, destroying fish and other animal habitats.
As for the remaining components of the port expansion, Cordo says the biggest parts have yet to be finished.
“The largest part is the actual deepening and widening of the Corpus Christi Ship Channel,” explains Cordo. “That is broken into four separate contracts. The first contract covers from the Gulf to Harbor Island. The design is complete and out for bids right now.”
The Port currently is designing the contracts for the second and third elements. Those contracts would cover expansions from Harbor Island to La Quinta Intersection and La Quinta Intersection to Harbor Bridge.
“The fourth component would be the actual dredging of the inner harbor,” says Cordo.
The expansion’s funding is staggered over a period of years, and because the Port is a nonfederal partner, the cost is split 70/30 between the federal government and the port authority. The cost is more than justified, says Cordo.
“We are a strategic military port. We are also the largest exporter of crude in the nation. Every day, we generate $100 million in commerce for the area. Either fact proves the worth of the project. It will literally benefit the entire nation,” says Cordo.
Upon the completion of the channel expansion, Cordo says ships entering the harbor will be able to operate more efficiently and increase their cargo capacity, allowing shippers to increase their own revenue by $100 million, but more importantly, the wider the channel, the wider the margin of safety for the ship.
“Some ships are delayed by up to four hours to allow larger ships to transit the channel, causing them unnecessary dwell-time. Widening the channel will greatly reduce these delays. Every hour these ships save significantly reduces demurrage costs.”
Ultimately, Cordo sees the benefits of the expansion reaching far beyond the harbor, to impact the entire community.
“We are the economic hub for the region. We have a responsibility to make sure we are proactive in securing a solid foundation for the future economic growth of the Coastal Bend.”
For more information on the Port of Corpus Christi, visit their website.
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