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The Channel Improvement Project will secure the Port of Corpus Christi’s future

Posted at 10:29 PM, May 09, 2019

It’s a race to get American energy to the international market.

And with a price tag of $360 million, the Corpus Christi Channel Improvement Project will give the Port of Corpus Christi the deepest ship channel in the entire U.S. Gulf.

Phase 1 of the project is already underway.

It’s the largest project the Port of Corpus Christi will have in the works for 2019. And with more than $78 million of its own money invested, the Port is banking on the Channel Improvement Project to pay off big.

By widening the ship channel by 530 feet and deepening it from 41 to 54 feet, it will make the Port a major player when it comes to exporting American commodities.

The transformation will benefit Corpus Christi, said Sean Strawbridge, CEO of the Port of Corpus Christi.

“We’re exporting more American energy than ever before and Corpus Christi is front and center of this paradigm shift,” Strawbridge said. “But we have to make sure we can handle the larger classifications of ships and more of those vessels safely and competitively.”

Nicholas Laskowski with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer and CIP Project Manager says: “From our economic analysis a deeper channel will increase the efficiency of exporting, specifically oil-type products out of and into the Port of Corpus Christi.”

The project will consist of four phases, the first taking care of 7½ miles of dredging that will mark the first step in ensuring that the Port of Corpus Christi remains a major player when dealing with exports.

Great Lakes Dredging and Dock was awarded the contract for Phase 1. It has its dredging ship the Terrapin Island currently removing the loose top sentiments of the channel before deepening of the channel can begin.

According to Rick Elizondo with Great Lakes Dredging and Dock: “This project is going to be very valuable to the community and to Corpus for bringing in bigger ships and bigger tankers. Especially with the big boom of oil in the Coastal Bend.”

The deeper channel will allow the vessels to carry more cargo and more commodities such as crude oil at one time reducing the cost of transports.

“The money we invest and the returns we get on the investment not only creates more jobs but the money stays right here in South Texas,” Strawbridge said.

Phase 1 will take care of the Entrance Channel and should be complete by Feb. 20.

Three phases will remain, deepening the channel all the way to Viola Channel. The project should be complete in 4 1/2 years, cementing the Port of Corpus Christi as one of the busiest and most lucrative ports in the nation. Nearly $54 million of additional federal allocations have been proposed but not yet approved for 2020. Phase 2 of the project will consist of deepening the ship channel from Ferry Landing to just pass La Quinta Junction.