The busiest port in the U.S. is about to get a major upgrade. Houston’s Ship Channel is set for a massive, $1 billion expansion, the Port of Houston announced. This new project, fittingly dubbed Project 11, is the 11th major improvement that the ship channel has undergone in its more than 150-year history.
Improvements aim in part to widen and deepen the 52-mile ship channel, creating two-way traffic flow and thus, safer and more efficient vessel navigation, according to a press release from Houston Congressman Al Green.
Aside from major shipping assistance, Project 11 will aid the local ecosystem. By utilizing dredged materials, improvements will create 20 acres of new bird islands, build three marshes totaling 800 acres, and create more than 300 acres of new oyster reefs supported by reef pads to aid in their survival of natural disasters.
Yet another ecological benefit: this expansion and development promises reduced emissions, potentially meaning better air quality for the ship channel and even Greater Houston area, per Green’s office.
Green has been an ardent supporter of Project 11 since its initial conceptualization in 2010. He arranged for more than $140 million in federal funding by working with the Biden administration, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and both sides of the aisle in Congress, a press release notes. Current goals are for the project to be completed by 2025.
“I am proud to help advance Project 11 for the host of environmental benefits it offers and because of the critical role it will play in fostering commerce,” Green noted in a statement, adding, “I look forward to advocating for the Port of Houston’s future activities keeping Texas and the City of Houston as a top exporter across our nation and leading competitor around the world.”
Each year, Houston’s port sustains more than 3 million U.S. jobs, supports more than 200 industrial facilities along the ship channel, and generates more than $800 billion in economic value, according to Port of Houston data. Statewide, the ship channel, which extends through the Gulf of Mexico, supports economic activity totaling $339 billion, the Houston Port Authority estimates.