Houston’s Barbours Cut Now Deep Enough for Post-Panamaxes

The Houston Pilots Association has given authorization for the Port of Houston Authority to receive vessels with a 45-foot operating draft at its Barbours Cut Container Terminal after a project to widen and deepen Barbours Cut channel by additional 5 feet and upgrade the terminal was completed on September 29.

Last year, the Port Commission of the Port of Houston Authority awarded a USD 68.9 million construction contract with Orion Construction L.P. for Bayport and Barbours Cut channel and terminal improvements. The work included modification of the existing Bayport and Barbours Cut channels and berths, and increasing capacity of a federal placement area for future dredged material. The Barbours Cut channel is complete, while the Bayport channel dredging will be completed in 2016.

“The growth in containerized cargo through the Port Authority terminals and the increase in Post-Panamax ships coming to the Port of Houston require more draft depth and faster, larger cranes for even more efficient handling of containerized cargo across our docks,” said Executive Director Roger Guenther.

“This first milestone for our dredging project represents our commitment to invest in our facilities and accommodate growth.”

Both channels adjacent to the Port Authority’s Barbours Cut and Bayport container terminals are being dredged an additional 5 feet to match the capability of the Houston Ship Channel. The dredging project also widens or realigns the channels to better accommodate the larger ships that are expected to call with more increasing frequency in the near future.

The completion of the dredging project aligned with the recent delivery of four Super Post-Panamax wharf cranes to accommodate the larger vessels calling at Barbours Cut. The newest cranes are expected to be fully operational in the coming weeks.

After all of the improvements at Barbours Cut are completed, terminal capacity at that facility is expected to more than double from 1.2 million TEUs per year to 2.8 million TEUs per year.

Improvements to the Barbours Cut channel are projected to result in over USD 900 million in combined local, state and national economic benefits over the next 50 years, according to a study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).