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Port of Houston kicks off $1 billion expansion project of ship channel

June 1, 2022

A new, billion-dollar, "generation-defining" project aims to expand the Houston Ship Channel. The Houston Ship Channel is the busiest waterway in the United States. It's a huge moneymaker and job creator, and now it's getting an upgrade!

Port of Houston, in collaboration with several other groups, hosted a kick-off event on Wednesday morning for "Project 11," which will deepen and widen the 52-mile channel that stretches all the way from the Gulf of Mexico into Houston.

The project is expected to cost $1 billion and will ensure some of the larger import and export container cargo ships can safely and efficiently move through the water. It also includes sustainable improvement plans.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Port of Houston explained that dredges, such as one named "Carolina" will play a major part in the expansion.

Officials said the environment is a big priority in the project, with Carolina featuring low emissions.

"It's one of the largest dredges in the United States. She is 340 feet long, 65 feet wide, and has about 16,000 horsepower installed on the vessel," said Lasse Petterson with Great Lakes Dredge and Dock. "The dredge has completed numerous challenging projects around the world, and we repositioned her from the Middle East to the U.S. two years ago."

The ship channel supports 2 million jobs in Texas, 3.2 million jobs nationwide, and supports economic activity totaling $339 billion in the state -- 20.6% of Texas' total gross domestic product.

It also creates $801.9 billion in economic impact across the nation.

Officials released a map that features the different phases of Project 11. For example, the first area of the channel that starts in Galveston will be widened to 700 feet, and a bird island will be added in addition to mitigation for oyster habitat loss.

Port of Houston said the entire project could be completed in as soon as three and a half years. Officials said the majority of the $1 billion has been secured, minus a remaining 18%.