If 2019 was a year of planning and milestones at the Port of Galveston, 2020 will be the year to begin implementation. The Galveston Wharves Board set goals for a number of major projects and programs in 2019; now comes the challenging work of bringing those plans to reality.
We expect to see construction; continued revenue, jobs and business growth; and tangible progress on new initiatives like our interior roadway to ease traffic on Harborside Drive and our environmental sustainability program, Green Marine.
As we deal with these changes and some short-term inconveniences, but we will keep the port’s purpose in mind – to generate and reinvest revenue in the port to create economic growth, jobs and other benefits for the Galveston community.
We ask our business partners, cruise passengers and the community to pardon our dust and be patient. By the end of 2020, the waterfront will look and operate somewhat differently. Here are some highlights:
- Most of our cargo operations will be consolidated on the west end of the port. We’ll complete a number of construction projects to accommodate more cargo operations in this area. Those plans include infrastructure work as we prepare to move a major roll-on/roll-off tenant from Pier 10 on the east end of the port to make way for the new cruise terminal. The good news for anyone who drives on Harborside is that all of the tractor-trailer trucks moving large pieces of equipment won’t be driving on Harborside in the downtown area.
- The new $100 million Royal Caribbean cruise terminal will begin to take shape. Port and city construction crews will be making infrastructure improvements in the Pier 10 area in preparation for Royal Caribbean construction crews to begin their work. We can expect to see this beautiful, 2-story terminal go vertical in 2020.
- We’ll make improvements to traffic flows. We’re conducting a traffic study to find the best ways to alleviate cruise-related traffic on Harborside and to accommodate vehicular and pedestrian traffic inside the port. We expect to make progress on the interior roadway, signage and sidewalks this year. We also hope to have the pedestrian crossover at 25th Street and Harborside improved and reopened this year.
- Cruise parking will continue to be more profitable and efficient. Under the leadership of our new mobility director, we achieved record revenues from the almost 3,000 parking spots we operate in 2019. We expect those revenues to grow this year as we expand our marketing and partnerships.
- The waterfront will be busier than ever. In 2019, cargo ships were up 8 percent for the year, cruise ships were up 11 percent and lay ship calls were up 52 percent. Overall, we had 1,023 ships call at the port, which was 22 percent over 2018. We also set a new record of 1 million cruise passengers in 2019. We expect to have higher numbers in 2020.
All of this activity equals more jobs, higher sales tax revenues for the city and a huge economic impact for businesses in the region. More ship calls generate more work for the Galveston-Texas City Pilots, longshoremen and other. More cruise passengers will boost revenues for local businesses.
It’s going to be a very exciting year at the port. I’ll look forward to sharing updates with you throughout the year.