The Texas Transportation Commission, the governing body for the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), approved the funding at its September 28 meeting on TxDOT’s Port Authority Advisory Committee (PAAC) recommendation.
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The projects will be funded through TxDOT’s Maritime Infrastructure Program with a $15.75 million match from the Galveston Wharves. The three projects are included in the port’s 20-Year Strategic Master Plan.
Rodger Rees, Galveston Wharves port director and CEO, said, “This is the single largest amount of funding ever received by the port and reflects years of work by the port, TxDOT and the PAAC. These shovel-ready projects will expand our cargo business, improve traffic flow and make it safer for pedestrians to access cruise operations and downtown Galveston.
“This major economic investment is possible because the 88th Texas Legislature made history in their last regular session by allocating $640 million for infrastructure projects inside and outside port gates and for ship channel improvements at Texas ports.”
Cargo Complex Improvements
The state will provide $36 million for a proposed $50.1 million project at the West Port Cargo Complex. The port would fund the projected $14.1 million balance. The port staff has already prepared engineering design and partial construction drawings for enclosure walls, a 1,340-foot-long berth across two open slips, and concrete paving.
The project will replace aging infrastructure and add about 500 linear feet of berthing area to be used for cargo and lay ships, creating jobs and additional revenue for the port, Rees said. Construction is expected to begin in 2024, with completion projected by 2026.
$3.15 Million Internal Roadway Reconstruction
The state awarded $2.5 million to fund the fourth section of the port’s improved and expanded internal roadway between 33rd and 41st streets.
The port will provide $655,000 in matching funds. The roadway on the far west end of the port would give improved access to the West Port Cargo Complex and bring more cruise traffic off Harborside Drive (Texas State Highway 275) to alleviate congestion in the downtown area.
Pedestrian Walkway Over Harborside Drive
The port will use $3.85 million in state funding to restore and reopen the enclosed walkway over Harborside Drive at 25th Street to give cruise passengers, workers and the public safe access to cruise terminals 25 and 28, Shearn Moody Plaza parking garage and the Strand Historic District.
The walkway was built in the 1990s and has been closed for about 20 years. The port will contribute $1 million for the $4.85 million project.
Work to restore the walkway includes structural and interior improvements and elevators and/or escalators at Cruise Terminal 25 and the parking garage. ■