The Galveston Wharves is fulfilling its mission to maximize port assets for economic and jobs growth with major construction projects outlined in the port’s 20-Year Strategic Master Plan.
As a self-sustaining city entity that receives no property tax revenue, the port is funding millions of dollars in improvements with cash reserves, grants and public-private partnerships. These projects will improve traffic flow, generate thousands of new jobs and position the port for long-term revenue growth, especially in cruise and cargo.
Reviving and growing the port’s cruise business is critical because it generates about 65 percent of the port’s revenue in a typical year. The port reinvests this revenue to fund capital projects, maintenance and long-deferred repairs.
INVESTING FOR LONG-TERM GROWTH
The port has committed almost $25 million for its portion of East Port construction projects related to Royal Caribbean Line’s $110 million cruise terminal, scheduled to open next year.
The port has made infrastructure improvements, including dock repairs, drainage, utilities and site work to prepare Pier 10 for the port’s third cruise terminal. The port also will build more than 1,500 cruise passenger parking spaces, which will generate an estimated $8.1 million in gross revenues annually. In addition to cruise revenue, the Pier 10 area generates revenues from BMW’s imported vehicle processing center and from lay ship dockage when dock space is available.
To accommodate the port’s growing cruise business and reduce truck traffic on Harborside Drive around downtown, we invested almost $2 million in improvements to relocate roll-on/roll-off cargo from the East Port and begin developing the West Port Cargo Complex. The cargo area is served by rail and is minutes from Interstate 45, making it an ideal location for large cargo like wind turbine pieces and construction and agricultural equipment.
This is only the first phase. The strategic plan envisions filling slips, extending rail to the waterfront and making other infrastructure improvements to expand the port’s cargo business, which creates more jobs and revenue.
GRANTS FOR TRANSPORTATION IMPROVEMENTS
I have great news about the port’s plans for the interior roadway to improve pedestrian and vehicular traffic and relieve port-related traffic on Harborside Drive. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has awarded $4.85 million in grants to fund roughly 65 percent of the interior roadway improvements. The port is also seeking another TxDOT grant for $1.95 million for another section of roadway.
The port greatly appreciates that TxDOT recognizes the value of the port and its transportation infrastructure improvements.
In addition to these major projects, the port’s Construction and Maintenance group plans and executes hundreds of smaller maintenance and improvement projects. This year through September, the team has completed 839 work orders.
The Engineering Department is also evaluating the viability of installing a berth and making other improvements on an undeveloped 100-acre tract on Pelican Island to accommodate the port’s lay ship business.
Lay dockage continues to be a strong revenue source and growth opportunity. For the last 12 months, lay revenues grew by more than 50 percent to $6.3 million. As cargo and cruise business grow, it may make sense to add dock space for lay dockage on Pelican Island.