On September 29, 2023 the Texas Transportation Commission approved a historic $240 million in renovation funding for Texas ports to help increase trade, improve safety, and provide a more robust supply chain for both the state and the nation.
“Texas has two of the three largest ports in the U.S. based on tonnage, so this will not only benefit Texans, but the entire nation,” said Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Executive Director Marc Williams.
“The unprecedented funding commitment by Governor Abbott, the Texas Legislature, and the commission benefits the entire Texas port system and serves as a catalyst for job creation, business development, and a more resilient supply chain,” he added.
Signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott earlier this year as the first funding of its kind in Texas, the Commission approved $200 million for port development and infrastructure projects through the Maritime Infrastructure Program, in addition to $40 million for state highway and other public transportation roadway projects through the Seaport Connectivity Program.
“Texas ports are a crucial link in the supply chain,” said Texas Transportation Commissioner Steven Alvis. “With the expansion of the Panama Canal, and under the Governor’s direction, improving these port facilities along the Texas Gulf Coast helps support this key economic driver for our state and the nation.”
The funding goes toward 31 projects recommended by the Port Authority Advisory Committee, a nine-member body representing the Texas port industry, after considering project eligibility and merits.
“This unprecedented funding is great news for Texans and will be critical for the robust port development and expansion happening along our Gulf Coast communities, including right here in Texas House District 21,” said Speaker Dade Phelan.
“As the Texas economy continues to thrive, it is essential that the state prioritizes investments toward our ports, roads and rails—and this is an important step toward maintaining that commitment. I appreciate the Texas Transportation Commission for approving this funding and the Texas Legislature for passing legislation earlier this year to make this investment possible,” he added.
This new funding includes $200 million for 12 projects for the Maritime Infrastructure Program, including building truck queuing areas, dock rehabilitation and expansion, and rail expansion.
It also includes $40 million for 19 projects for the Seaport Connectivity Program to improve connectivity, enhance safety, and relieve congestion in areas near the state’s maritime ports.
According to a 2018 report by the Texas Ports Association, the port industry supports more than 128,000 direct jobs in Texas, generating $8.7 billion in personal income. An additional 1.7 million jobs and $102 billion in personal income is generated from economic activity dependent on the state’s ports, and the industry contributes $7.8 billion annually in state and local tax revenues.
The Maritime Division promotes the maritime industry in Texas and helps to develop the state’s maritime transportation system, including intermodal connectivity of each port to the interstate highway system and freight network.
Together, Texas ports move more cargo than any other state, more than 607 million tons in 2020, including 464 million tons of international cargo and 143 million tons of domestic cargo. Texas ports also moved nearly three million containers and served nearly 500,000 cruise passengers, despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Five of the state’s ports are ranked in the top 20 U.S. ports by total tonnage: Houston, Corpus Christi, Beaumont, Texas City, and Port Arthur.
“Texas ports play a critical role in our state’s booming economy, helping Texas continue to drive America’s economy and remain a hub for international trade,” said Governor Abbott.
“I thank the Texas Legislature for bringing this legislation to my desk and the Texas Transportation Commission for approving this crucial funding to ensure Texas has the infrastructure needed to support America’s supply chain and promote continued economic growth and activity. This historic investment will not only bolster Texas’ ports infrastructure, it will help build a brighter economic future for all Texans,” he continued.
In June, Governor Abbott signed into law Senate Bill 30, authorizing additional funding to bolster Texas ports, which contribute $450 billion in economic activity statewide and support 1.8 million Texas jobs.
Photo of the Corpus Christi Harbor Bridge and port is courtesy of TxDOT.