Leaders with Port of Orange, other area ports detail upcoming projects and impacts

Published 12:10 am Thursday, December 21, 2023

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Four local ports are preparing for major projects thanks to million of dollars in grant funding.

The ports of Orange, Port Arthur, Beaumont and Sabine Pass received collectively $66 million in grants, part of an overall $200 million funded through the 88th Legislative Session.

Lorrie Taylor, director of the Port of Orange, said they are currently working on Maritime Infrastructure Program and Port Connectivity Program grant projects.

The largest of the two, the Trans Modal Containerized Project Cargo Dock, is a $20 million investment with $15.4 million in grant funds appropriated by the 88th Texas Legislature and an estimated $4.6 million investment by the Port of Orange.

Taylor explained the Trans Modal yard was built approximately 10 years ago and is failing under its own weight.

To repair this requires tearing out the concrete slab and check the tie rods, see what condition they are in, re-stabilize the ground and drive pilings in to properly support it.

There is also a project to add an additional dock area off the main dock that will enable the port to transfer cargo in and out. The Port of Orange is not a deep draft port like others in the state ,so this project is much needed, she said.

Zach Johnson with Texas Department of Transportation Port Authority Advisory Board, left, Rep. Christian Manuel and Dr. Thomas Johnson with Lamar State College Orange speak before Monday’s event. (Mary Meaux/The Leader)

Taylor described it as a container on a barge facility that will also serve as a loading area. The project will add 20 to 30 jobs.

The Seaport Connectivity Project, estimated at $3.4 million, will create 30 to 50 jobs dependent on utilizing the space. It will reduce truck congestion, lower diesel emissions and lower transportation costs, as well as support economic development, creating local jobs and supporting existing jobs while attracting new development to Orange County, she said.

The Port of Port Arthur has a total of $19.6 million in Seaport Connectivity Program and Maritime Infrastructure Program grants.

Director Larry Kelley said the next step is developing an agreement with the Texas Department of Transportation then design, bid and construction, which should take place in the next 12 months.

The Port has held three community engagement sessions with residents of the West Side of the city to discuss the project.

The project, he said, allows access in and out of the port.

“Today, the port is bounded by a flood protection levee and a rail area and at least three times a day our access is limited in and out of the port,” Kelley said.

In the future, the flood protection levee around the city will be elevated and the realignment of those gate structures would further limit our access in and out of the port. And as the port continues to grow, there is the berth six project, which, he said, helps support that investment in Port Arthur.

Chris Fisher, director of the Port of Beaumont, has $23.9 million in grants for work ranging from a truck access improvement project to a paving project.

The approximately 35-acre concrete lot helps the port market for a number of projects and cargo that they would otherwise have to turn away due to the lack of space.

“These projects are economic drivers,” Fisher said. “Ports contribute about $450 billion to the State of Texas and economic progress.”

Sabine Pass Port Authority is looking at a $4.6 million Maritime Infrastructure Project for a bulkhead project.

The announcement of grant funding came a few months ago and on Monday, individuals associated with the four ports and others gathered at the Port of Orange to celebrate the legislators for their support. Sen. Robert Nichols who is chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, Rep. Dade Phelan, Speaker of the House, and Rep. Christian Manuel addressed the crowd.

— Written by Mary Meaux