Army Corps of Engineers applies $23 million to port's channel project
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is pitching in to help finance the Port of Corpus Christi's long-pursued plan to deepen and widen its ship channel.
The Army Corps of Engineers' Work Plan for 2018, released Monday, included nearly $23 million in its navigation construction budget that is to be applied to the Corpus Christi Channel Improvement Project.
Port officials said the funds will pay for the second of six contracts on the project, and will extend construction from the entrance in the Gulf of Mexico to Redfish Bay.
The channel improvements "will ultimately increase exports of American energy to our allies and trading partners around the world.” said Sean Strawbridge, the port's CEO, calling the effort the port's "most critical infrastructure project."
Corpus Christi's port is the nation's fourth-largest based on tonnage, despite its narrow, shallow ship channel. Its 530-foot width — stretching from Port Aransas to the Harbor Bridge — makes two-way traffic impossible.
Its 43-foot depth also prevents the largest varieties of cargo ships from sailing its waters.
Plans to widen and deepen the narrow ship channel have been on the drawing board for decades as vessel traffic has climbed.
The talk has taken on more urgency in recent years following the expansion of the Panama Canal and the U.S.government's repeal of the decades-long ban on crude exports.
However, acquiring the more than $300 million needed to do the work has been a challenge for most of that time.
TODD YATES/CALLER-TIMES The M/V Pennsylvania tanker pulls into the Port of Corpus Christi making it first port of call to the port to load oil from the Eagle Ford Shale fields Wednesday. The newly built vessel will be moving oil and products related to the Eagle Ford Shale fields.
Earlier this year, the Trump administration’s Fiscal Year 2019 Budget for the Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works allocated $13 million for the project.
In September, the port committed up to $102.4 million of its own funds for the ship channel project. That included more than $32 million to get the first of six phases underway.
"We anticipate further federal support and funding in the coming years and today is a great start toward maximizing our full potential,” Port commission chairman Charles W. Zahn, Jr. said.
The project is is expected to be completed by 2021.
Port vessel traffic by year
2017 - 6,482
2015 - 7,560
2014 - 8,528
2011 - 5,413
2010 - 5,769
2009 - 5,151
2008 - 6,022
* Indicates traffic only from January to April.
Largest oil tanker to ever dock in Port of Corpus Christi arrive
The Anne docked at the Oxy Ingleside Energy Center on Friday, May 26, 2017 it is the largest tanker to ever doc in a U.S. ulf og Mexico port.