As the Galveston Wharves implements its 20-year Strategic Master Plan, we are currently seeking $45 million to help fund the $117 million expansion of our West Port Cargo Complex. Continuing to expand and diversify our cargo business is a top priority in this long-range plan, which guides future growth and identifies the best and highest uses for port facilities.
According to the master plan, cargo tonnage declined from more than 6 million tons in 2009 to less that 3.5 million tons in 2017. I’m happy to report that since I joined the Galveston Wharves in January 2018, we’ve built up that annual cargo tonnage to more than 4 million tons a year. This is a result of hard work by port staff.
If we’re to continue expanding our cargo business – and associated jobs and revenues, we must repair existing infrastructure, build new infrastructure and add more land, particularly for cargo laydown.
In 2018, cargo accounted for 218 acres, or 30 percent of the port’s 720 acres. By 2040, our master plan envisions a total of 802 acres, of which 46 percent would be used for cargo.
The Wharves Board of Trustees and staff have identified a set of priority projects totaling $117 million to:
- Consolidate cargo operations roughly between 33rd and 53rd streets
- Expand this area by almost 18 acres for a total 61.6 contiguous acres
- Provide direct rail and road access
- Improve port infrastructure
As a self-funding port with land constraints and decaying infrastructure, these grants are critical.
One of the port’s top priorities is to build an interior roadway from 14th Street to 20th Street and from 29th Street to 53rd Street to improve the flow of port traffic and alleviate congestion on Harborside Drive. A section of the roadway at 29th Street is under construction, and we have received a $5 million grant from the Texas Department of Transportation for the internal road network from 14th to 20th Street. This grant award requires a port match of $1.25 million.
We have applied for two U.S. Department of Transportation grants and sent a letter of interest to the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Finance program for the following West Port Cargo Complex projects:
- Fill in outdated, unused slips at piers 38 and 40
- Install 5,500 yards of railroad track to add an on-dock railyard that connects to the existing rail system south of Old Port Industrial Road
- Install new bulkheads in the Pier 38-41 cargo area for 2,200 linear feet of docking space
- Extend the interior roadway by building a 4-lane concrete road from 33rd Street to 53rd Street, and along 37th Street between Harborside and Old Port Industrial Road inside port property
- Build a new security gate and truck scale at 41st Street
- Replace or add waterlines, storm drains and other utilities on port and city property
- Add wayfinding signage and traffic signals
- Build a 1.25-mile section of a bike path that will eventually run the length of the port from the University of Texas Medical Branch with access to Pelican Island
We want to thank Galveston City Council for their recent resolution in support of grant funding for these projects.