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By Rodger Rees, Port Director and CEO
Tis the season for giving thanks. It’s the time of year when we reflect on the past year and gather with friends, family and co-workers to celebrate. When I look back on this year at the Port of Galveston, I have a long list of things for which I’m grateful. They can be grouped into three buckets – people, partnerships and projects.
PROJECTS BRINGING PORT TO FULL POTENTIAL
In 2019 the Galveston Wharves Board of Trustees adopted a 20-Year Strategic Master Plan to bring our self-sustaining, citizen-owned port to its fullest potential in terms of revenues, jobs and community benefits.
The global pandemic slowed us down a bit, but with the cruise industry’s gradual recovery beginning in summer 2021, we’re making great progress with our master plan implementation and other critical projects. With no taxing authority, the port relies largely on its cruise business and grants to fund major capital and maintenance projects.
Based on extensive research and public comment, the plan includes consolidating cargo operations largely in the port’s west end, expanding our cruise operations and building an interior roadway. The plan, with a total budget of more than $500 million, also prioritizes major maintenance projects to repair aging infrastructure.
Major 2022 project accomplishments related to the master plan and general port operations include the following:
- Opening the state-of-the-art Royal Caribbean cruise terminal
- Recovery of our cruise industry after being idle for 15 months
- Completion of major capital improvement projects, including several phases of our interior roadway
- Expansion of our Green Marine program
- Completion of major federal and port-funded dredging projects to bring our ship channel back to its full permitted depths
PARTNERSHIPS MAKE IT POSSIBLE
We can’t do many of these big projects without strong partnerships with public and private entities.
The new $125 million cruise terminal was made possible through a partnership with Royal Caribbean International and Ceres Terminals Holdings LLC. The port contributed $22 million for pier repairs, site work, utilities and port-operated cruise parking.
Channel maintenance dredging and expansion is another example. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District secured $16.3 million in federal funding for a Galveston Harbor and Channel extension project. The federal budget also included $25 million for operations and maintenance, the largest amount ever allocated for federal portions of the Galveston Harbor and Channel.
Our recently announced memorandum of understanding to evaluate the potential of a shore power project at the port is another example. Shore power is a complex and expensive venture. The port will be working with subject matter experts from Carnival Corporation, CenterPoint Energy, Royal Caribbean Group, Shell and Texas A&M University at Galveston to look at developing environmentally beneficial shore power.
GRATEFUL FOR PEOPLE
I’m most grateful for all the people who believe in the port and help us deliver our mission. There’s not room to list everyone individually so I’ll list them by groups:
- The Galveston Wharves Board of Trustees who volunteer their time to guide the port
- Our state and federal elected officials who help the port secure project funding
- State and federal entities, including the Texas Department of Transportation, that provide grants for port programs and projects
- Port partners, including the pilots, stevedores, tenants and the International Longshoremen’s Association
- The Galveston Chamber of Commerce and Galveston Economic Development Partnership
- Galveston citizens
Last but certainly not least is the port staff. This dedicated, hard-working group of 100 people achieves the work of a staff twice its size. All the departments work well together and are ready to take on any challenge or project, no matter how big. This can-do attitude and teamwork make the port successful and a great place to work.
From my family to yours – wishing everyone a happy holiday season.