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Army Corps of Engineers Grants $23M to Port Corpus Christi

The Mt Astra sails fully loaded under the Harbor Bridge on April 6 after filling up with crude oil at Buckeye Partner’s newly modified dock in the Corpus Christi Ship Channel. The port’s Channel Improvement Project will allow for bigger ships to use the port more often. Courtesy photo

The Port of Corpus Christi just got another $23 million toward its $350 million-plus channel dredging project. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers included the money in its 2018 navigation construction budget, which was released June 11. The money goes directly to the Corpus Christi Channel Improvement Project.

“As evidence of our positive working relationship with the Army Corps of Engineers, their 2018 Work Plan further moves our most important critical infrastructure project to fruition,” port CEO Sean Strawbridge said. “(The project) will ultimately increase exports of American energy to our allies and trading partners around the world.”

The money comes on top of $19 million pledged by the Trump administration in its Fiscal Year 2019 Budget for the Corps. It will be used to fully fund the second of six contracts and will extend the construction from the entrance in the Gulf of Mexico to Redfish Bay.

Estimated to be completed in 2021-22, the Channel Improvement Project will dredge the Corpus Christi Ship Channel down to 54 feet from about 47 feet along a 36-mile stretch. The channel will be widened to 530 feet from 400 feet, allowing two ships to pass each other.

“We anticipate further federal support and funding in the coming years,” said Charles W. Zahn Jr., port commission chairman. “Today is a great start toward maximizing our full potential.”

The port has waited almost three decades for funding for a project that is estimated to increase exports of U.S.-produced energy by nearly $40 billion while increasing safety on the waters. The Port of Corpus Christi is the leading exporter of U.S. crude oil and the fourth-largest port in the nation in terms of tonnage.

In March, port commissioners voted to issue bonds of up to $400 million for the channel project. The measure is a “fallback” so the project can move forward while awaiting federal funding.

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