The Port of Galveston will be investing millions of dollars in construction projects this year as it begins to implement its 20-Year Strategic Master Plan. Some of the projects are long-deferred maintenance, some pave the way for major business growth, and some are early stages of long-range major improvements.
Projects kicking off in 2020 can be grouped in five main areas:
- Relocation of cargo operations from the east port to the west port
- Infrastructure improvements and site work to prepare Pier 10 for Royal Caribbean cruise terminal construction
- Pedestrian and vehicular traffic projects to improve safety and traffic flow
- Drainage and utility improvements
- General repairs
Our strategic master plan identifies more than $500 million in potential improvement projects over the next two decades. As we plan implementation, our biggest challenges are funding and prioritizing in what order to do the projects because many are interconnected.
The Galveston Wharves Board of Trustees approved the master plan in December 2019 and now is evaluating and prioritizing projects for implementation.
We, at the port, recognize that we are stewards of this publicly-owned entity. We take our fiscal and economic development responsibilities seriously.
Pending board approval and funding availability, projects planned for 2020-21 could total an estimated $30 million. Funding would come from a combination of port revenues, as well as debt and city, state and federal grants - some already awarded, some pending.
As a self-funding operation with no taxing authority, the port relies on its revenues, grants, and partnerships to pay for all of its operations, maintenance and improvements.
I compare it to the challenges of pay-as-you-go home remodeling. Say you bought an older home that needs a lot of work, including a new roof, plumbing repairs, etc. You have some hard-earned savings, you may get a cash gift from your in-laws, and you’re planning to borrow a small amount from the bank. With limited funds, you have to carefully weigh which projects to do first and how to manage your costs.
Some of these projects, like the $2 million project for the first phase of our expanded interior roadway, are fully funded and underway. Other projects, like the $2.7 million walkover at 25th Street and Harborside, have been approved by the board and engineered. The port has applied for a $1.3 million grant from the city’s Industrial Development Corp. to help fund the walkover, which will safely move pedestrians between downtown and the waterfront.