Deep impact: ship channel to be improved

By Freddy Jimenez

editor@portisabelsouthpadre.com

Shown are Brownsville Navigation District Commission Chairman John Reed and NextDecade Corporation President and CEO Matthew Schatzman signing the agreement, with Texas Secretary of State David Whitley, Brownsville Mayor Tony Martinez, Deputy Secretary of the Dept. of Energy Dan Brouillette, Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño, Jr., and BND Vice Chairman Sergio Lopez standing behind them on Wed., April 24. (Photo by Freddy Jimenez)

By way of an agreement between the Brownsville Navigation District (BND) and NextDecade Corporation, the Brownsville Ship Channel located at the Port of Brownsville will undergo improvements in the near future.

On Wednesday, April 24, a ceremony was held at the Port of Brownsville announcing the agreement between both entities. Titled the Brazos Island Harbor Channel Improvement Project (BIH), the improvement to come involves the deepening of the Brownsville Ship Channel to 52 feet.

However, it was announced at the ceremony held on Wed. that NextDecade would be privately funding the deepening of the Channel from the Gulf of Mexico to the Rio Grande LNG project site.

“NextDecade will privately fund deepening of the Brownsville Ship Channel from the Gulf of Mexico to the Rio Grande LNG project site. NextDecade will also fund the widening of the bend close to the entrance of the Brownsville ship channel to improve navigational safety,” read a press release.

According to BND Chairman John Reed, who gave the first speech, in 2007 the BND authorized staff to conceive strategies on how to deepen the ship channel. That same year, a feasibility project was initiated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which was completed in 2011. Then in 2014, the Corps recommended deepening the Channel to 52 feet. In 2016, Congress then voted in favor of the project being eligible for federal funding.

Speaking at the ceremony were other various bureaucrats, such as Texas Secretary of State David Whitley, Brownsville Mayor Tony Martinez, Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño Jr., and United States Deputy Secretary of the Dept. of Energy Dan Brouillette.

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