News: USACE Galveston District’s projects receive WRRDA authorization
Story by Sandra Arnold
GALVESTON, Texas - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District received authorization for construction for the deepening of the Freeport Ship Channel to 55 feet, deepening of the Sabine Neches Waterway to 48 feet and will reauthorize the Corpus Christi Ship Channel for widening and deepening to 52 feet following the U.S. Senate-House joint conference committee’s agreement on the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) yesterday.
“The 2014 WRRDA promotes our nation’s competitiveness and economic growth along the Texas coast by providing the necessary funding to modernize our ports,” said Bill Wise, chief of the Project Management Branch for the USACE Galveston District. “These channel improvements will support the federal responsibility of maintaining a strong maritime transportation infrastructure to ensure the efficient flow of domestic and international commerce.”
According to Wise, the bill authorizes funding for the projects however, because of the scale and expense of the projects, federal funding will need to be appropriated each year on an ongoing basis to cover the cost, which will be shared by the local, state and federal governments. Combined, the total projects’ cost is approximately $1.825 billion, with 58 percent, or $1.06 billion, assumed by the federal government.
“Construction of these three projects will provide navigation infrastructure improvements needed to help support more than $100 billion in non-federal investment occurring at ports along the Texas coast,” Wise said. “Additionally, the 2014 WRRDA will reduce the time it takes for project approvals, allow for concurrent reviews, supports streamlining environmental reviews and puts the trust back into the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund.”
Wise added that because the navigation projects are included in the final bill, authorization will allow federal funding to be provided for construction of the projects, which is a critical step forward in closing the infrastructure gap to strengthen our competitiveness, grow the economy and allow our nation’s ports to remain competitive on a global level.
The authorization coincides with Infrastructure Week (May 12-16, 2014); a weeklong series of events and activities held in Washington, D.C., to build awareness to educate both the public and policy makers about America’s infrastructure challenges and highlight the critical role infrastructure plays in America’s fight to stay competitive.
Learn more about the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure by logging on to http://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/. For news and information, visit www.swg.usace.army.mil. Find us on Facebook, www.facebook.com/GalvestonDistrict, or follow us on Twitter, www.twitter.com/USACEGalveston.