The Port Commission of the Port of Houston Authority (PHA) approved $3 million for shoreline protection at Morgan's Point, near Barbours Cut Terminal, and awarded three professional service contracts for project outlines for a Pelican Island Conceptual Planning Study at its regular Sept. 30 meeting.


The commissioners also approved amending a contract with the Houston Audubon Society for planting, monitoring and management of Evia Island, a Houston Ship Channel Project Beneficial Uses Site, for an additional two-year term and $50,000.

The Morgan's Point project is part of an agreement with San Jacinto College District to develop a Teaching-and-Learning Nature Preserve and design and construct an erosion control barrier along the shoreline of its property south of Barbours Cut Terminal. Estimated cost of this project is $2.7 to $3.3 million. The project furthers the PHA's environmental stewardship efforts.


Commissioners approved awarding of three professional service contracts for project outlines for a Pelican Island Conceptual Planning Study. PHA entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Galveston Wharves in 2007, agreeing to formulate a joint action plan to create a Master Development Plan for a Pelican Island container-handling facility. An interlocal agreement for Pelican Island Container Terminal Planning further outlines the process. An initial step in the development of the Master Plan is the collection and analysis of information, covering conceptual container terminal planning, land, rail and water transportation issues, environmental permitting requirements, and community and stakeholder involvement. The need for a new container-handling facility is a priority as PHA is the busiest container port along the U.S. Gulf Coast, currently handling nearly 70 percent of the container market in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.


The commission authorized the port authority's execution of the petition requesting creation of the Houston Ship Channel Security District and its payment of assessments for each of the first three years of the district for $150,000 per year, and also authorize the port authority to otherwise participate and act with respect to the creation and implementation of the district and its security projects. Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed into law the bill that authorized creation of the district in August 2007 at PHA headquarters. When it is finalized, the public-private partnership will be a model for the nation and further improve security and safety for facilities, employees and communities adjacent to the Houston Ship Channel through increased preparedness and response capability. Assessments from district members will enhance the infrastructure, as well as improve maintenance and operations of the security network.


Recent economic and population growth have stressed the region's current transportation infrastructure system. Additionally, the movement of cargo in and out of port and airport facilities is expected to triple in the next 17 years. It is critical that the region's transportation infrastructure keep pace with existing and expected growth.