Transportation

Port Of Houston Back In Business After Harvey, Cleaning Up Ship Channel Remains A Challenge: Chairman Longoria

The Port is asking Congress for additional funds to take preventive measures for the next storm

Port of Houston Chairman Janiece Longoria chats with Jim Teague, CEO of Enterprise Products Partners at Greater Houston Partnership’s State of the Port address on November 16th, 2017.

Port of Houston Chairman Janiece Longoria said on Thursday that they were back in business about a week after Hurricane Harvey, but the challenge now is dredging all the silt that collected in the Houston Ship Channel. She said that dredging is crucial to maritime safety.

Speaking before the Greater Houston Partnership in its annual State of the Port address, Longoria told a packed house that they’re still dealing with what the floods left behind.  She said that silt makes it harder for ships to navigate because they don’t have the proper depth.

“When vessels are not able to load fully, that causes increased costs within the supply chain that is ultimately borne by the consumer,” explained Longoria.

And port officials are hoping that gets the attention of members of Congress. Longoria says they’re now seeking funds for preventative dredging, to prepare the Ship Channel for the next big storm.

“The Ship Channel was closed only five days after Harvey,” added Longoria. “In that very brief time, we had jet fuel shortages. We had gasoline shortages.”

Longoria said they need about $50 to $60 million a year to maintain the port’s channels. But they only get about $30 million from the federal government. And she pointed out that shippers are already paying a tax to fund dredging.

Despite those challenges, Longoria says business at the port remains strong. She says they’re now handling about 70% of the Gulf of Mexico’s container cargo.

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Gail Delaughter

Transportation Reporter

From early-morning interviews with commuters to walks through muddy construction sites, Gail covers all aspects of getting around Houston. That includes walking, driving, cycling, taking the bus, and occasionally flying. Before she became transportation reporter in 2011, Gail hosted weekend programs for Houston Public Media. She's also covered courts in...

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