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Posted on: January 25, 2022

Full Steam Ahead on Galveston Wharves Strategic Master Plan

Thanks to the vision and focus of our Galveston Wharves Board of Trustees, we are making steady progress with our 20-Year Strategic Master Plan. I’d like to give you an update on the major maintenance and capital improvement projects included in the initial 5-year phase.

 

But first, a brief overview of the master plan. After 1½ years of research, analysis and public input, the board adopted the comprehensive plan in late 2019. We follow this business-driven plan to prioritize and guide projects and activities to fulfill our mission ­– to grow the port’s business to benefit the Galveston community with jobs, tax revenues and economic growth. 

 

We use the plan’s solid data, industry forecasts, port business revenue modeling, project cost estimates, etc., to prioritize projects with board approval in 5-year phases. Some of the projects address major, long-deferred infrastructure repairs. Others are major capital improvement investments to maximize the benefits of our 840-acre port based on short- and long-term business forecasts.

 

Projects are divided geographically – West Port, Mid Port, East Port and Pelican Island. The total price tag for all the projects in the 20-year plan is about $886 million. As a self-funding city entity, we are “paying as we go” with port revenues, grants and public-private partnerships.

 

PROJECT PROGRESS

Our major East Port project, the third cruise terminal, is a great example of a successful public-private partnership. The $125 million project includes $110 million from Royal Caribbean International to build the 161,000-square-foot terminal. The port has projected roughly $20 million for pier repairs, site work, utilities and additional cruise parking. Opening in late 2022, the new terminal will be a major revenue generator for the port and regional economy.

 

Of the dozen or so East Port major projects included in the master plan’s first phase, 90 percent are underway, with 15 percent of those projects completed.

 

Our Mid Port area includes our two existing cruise terminals and some cruise parking. We have funded $2.5 million to complete a portion of our interior roadway, build a beautiful new entrance to the cruise terminal area, and make Cruise Terminal 1 walkway improvements. These active projects account for 13 percent of all Mid Port projects. Still to come are more interior roadway work, as well as parking and pier improvements.

 

The West Port is identified in the master plan as our major cargo area. In 2021 we consolidated more of our cargo activities, including roll-on/roll-off cargo at Pier 10, at our West Port Cargo Complex. We completed a portion of the interior roadway to serve that area, as well as facilities for our ro/ro cargo tenant. We are seeking an additional $30 million in funding to maximize the area by filling slips and expanding ground and rail infrastructure.

 

Pelican Island has tremendous potential for additional cargo and industrial uses once a new bridge is built. In the meantime, the port is considering building a lay berth area to serve its growing lay ship business.

 

I am encouraged by the progress that we have made despite the loss of roughly $40 million in revenues during the 1½-year suspension of cruise sailings due to the pandemic. The cruise business makes up about 65 percent of the port’s revenues, which help fund our master plan. With our cruise business ramping back up and more grant funding expected, we are full steam ahead on master plan projects.

 

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