Waves of funding arrive at Galveston port for dredging, maintenance work
New federal funding will expand the Port of Galveston’s commercial capacity and, in turn, help reduce broader port congestion.
A recent $11 million allocation from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) will support dredging the final 2,500-foot stretch of Galveston Ship Channel to a depth of 46 feet. Dredging work—now slated to begin in 2023—will permit this stretch of channel to function as a deep-water port. As a result, increasingly large vessels with larger cargo holds will be able to call on privately operated terminals that already exist along this part of the channel.
The region’s local port authority, Galveston Wharves, is working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to spearhead delivery of the project, which is expected to reach a total cost of $12 million to $14 million.
As dredging work gets underway, the FY2023 federal budget is also programming another $25 million for Galveston Ship Channel maintenance—the largest it has received for maintenance needs. The increase in federal funding follows an increase in volume of cargo shipped through the Port of Galveston. In 2020, for instance, the 12 million tons of cargo that traveled through the port made it the 46th-busiest U.S. waterway by cargo tonnage.
The federally funded dredging project is designed so the Port of Galveston can capitalize on these trends, rather than become overloaded by them. Ultimately, as larger vessels bring larger volumes of cargo through the Galveston Ship Channel, the port, itself, will become eligible for even larger allocations of federal money in the future.