June 29, 2022

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Houston Ship Channel launches $1 billion expansion project

2 min read

The Port of Houston Authority is finally moving dirt on a years-long $1 billion project to deepen the Houston Ship Channel, the organization announced Wednesday. 

Between now and the end of 2025, a giant dredging ship named the Carolina will dig at the bottom of the channel that spans 52 miles from near downtown Houston to the Gulf of Mexico. The work is being done by the authority and Army Corps of Engineers, which have been working on the expansion plans since 2010, according to Erica Grieder of the Houston Chronicle. 

“This project will enable Port Houston to continue to grow and respond effectively to whatever the future demand supply chain has to offer,” executive director Roger Guenther said during a press conference announcing the work Wednesday. 

The first segment is a major haul of nearly half the channel in Galveston Bay between the island and La Porte where Dredge Carolina will deepen and widen the channel to 700 feet across. 

This map shows where the dredging project will take place in the Houston Ship Channel over the next two and a half years. Segments in light blue are part of the channel but are not part of the dredging project.

This map shows where the dredging project will take place in the Houston Ship Channel over the next two and a half years. Segments in light blue are part of the channel but are not part of the dredging project.

Houston Ship Channel Expansion

The rest of the work will be split into five other segments. Crews will widen the smaller Bayport and Barbours Cut ship channels to the east of Galveston Bay before shifting focus to the narrower, more defined portion of the inland waterway. A segment between Boggy Bayou and Hunting Bayou near Beltway 8 will be widened to 530 feet and deepened to 46.5 feet. 

Finally, workers will deepen a narrower portion of the channel between Sims Bayou and Turning Basin, which is the ship channel’s easternmost point. The work will deepen the waterway by two to three feet to accommodate larger ships. 

Grieder reported that there are several reasons the port authority is expanding the Houston Ship Channel. Ships are increasingly built larger, and ports and passageways around the world are outfitting for these ships. Traffic in the channel has also reportedly tripled in the last two decades, as warehouse space to store and shuffle cargo has increased in and around Houston’s ports. 



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