Editor’s Note: This article is featured in the latest edition of the Port of Brownsville Directory. Click HERE to view directory or to request a copy.
After years of effort, planning and success, the Port of Brownsville is ready to begin one of its most important infrastructure projects to date, the Brazos Island Harbor (BIH) Channel Improvement Project. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Congress have authorized the deepening of the port’s channel from 42 feet to 52 feet. The project may cost upwards of $300 million and construction, divided into two phases, is expected to commence at the end of 2022. Deepening the port’s channel means bigger ships, more cargo, and more jobs for the Rio Grande Valley.
The port expects to pay for the project with a combination of public, private and federal funds. Demonstrating confidence in the public-private partnership (P3) strategy, NextDecade, owner of the proposed Rio Grande LNG natural gas liquefaction plant (largest of the proposed LNGs at the port), announced a landmark agreement with the port in April 2019, agreeing to pay 100 percent of Phase One of the deepening project from the western boundary of its lease site along the ship channel to the channel’s offshore origin (more than nine miles) – or more than half of the deepening project.
In March 2022, the federal government announced the allocation of $68 million to the project.
The funds, to be utilized for Phase Two, are provided under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) Appropriations Law. The BIH project was identified as part of the IIJA to strengthen port and waterway supply chains and climate resilience. Once the project is complete the Brownsville Ship Cannel will be one of the deepest ship channels in the Gulf of Mexico.