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Galveston Wharves Awarded $42.3 Million for Major Infrastructure Projects

Published Oct 04, 2023 by Hailea Schultz

Port of Galveston

The Galveston Wharves has been awarded $42.3 million in state funding, the largest grant received in the port’s history. 

The new funding will support a major cargo infrastructure project, which will replace aging infrastructure and add about 500 linear feet of berthing area for cargo and lay ships at the West Port Cargo Complex. Engineering design and partial construction drawings for the project have already been completed, with construction expected to begin in 2024. 

Additionally, the funding will bolster restorations of a section of the port’s interior roadway and a pedestrian walkway over Harborside Drive/State Highway 275. 

The three projects will be funded through TxDOT’s Maritime Infrastructure Program with a $15.75 million match from the Galveston Wharves. 

“These shovel-ready projects will expand our cargo business, improve traffic flow and make it safer for pedestrians to access cruise operations and downtown Galveston, said Rodger Rees, Galveston Wharves port director and CEO in a press release. “This major economic investment is possible because the 88th Texas Legislature made history in their last regular session by allocating $640 million for infrastructure projects inside and outside port gates and for ship channel improvements at Texas ports.”

Projected to cost $50.1 million, the West Port Cargo project will utilize $36 million of the state funding, with the port providing the remaining balance of $14.1 million. When completed in 2026, the project will create jobs and additional revenue for the port, Rees said. 

Additionally, $2.5 million of the fund will be allocated to improve and expand the port’s internal roadway between 33rd and 41st streets, which will provide better access to the West Port Cargo Complex, driving cruise traffic off Harborside Drive to alleviate congestion downtown. The port will provide $655,000 in matching funds, as the project is expected to cost $3.15 million. 

The port will use the remaining funding of $3.85 million to reopen the pedestrian walkway over Harborside Drive at 25th Street, which has been closed for nearly 20 years. This transformative revitalization project will give pedestrians safe access to cruise terminals 25 and 28, Shearn Moody Plaza parking garage and the Strand Historic District. With the project expected to cost $4.85 million, the port will contribute an additional $1 million.  

The pedestrian walkway project will also include improvements to elevators and escalators at Cruise Terminal 25 and the parking garage. 

“Thousands of cruise passengers travel through the terminals each week. Some walk across busy Harborside Drive with their luggage,” Rees said. “Reopening this walkway will give passengers, waterfront workers and visitors safe, convenient access to the port and downtown.”

These critical infrastructure projects are a part of the port’s 20-year Strategic Master Plan, which aims to prime the port for growth and expansion over the next 40 years.  

With the strategic plan already in motion, the port has recently seen tremendous growth, groundbreaking new developments and has snagged new cruise ships. 

Last month, Carnival Cruise Line announced that it will add another ship – Carnival Legend, at the Port of Galveston. Joining three other Carnival ships, the Carnival Legend will offer a variety of cruises to the Western Caribbean and the Panama Canal. The Carnival Legend has the capacity to host over 2,000 guests and has 50 suites and more than 630 balcony staterooms. The Carnival legend will set sail in the fall of 2025. 

Royal Caribbean International opened the first zero-energy, state-of-the-art terminal at the port’s Pier 10 last year. The $125 million Royal Caribbean terminal homeports the Allure of the Seas, one of the world’s largest cruise ships. The project also includes a $22 million investment from the port for pier repairs, site work, utilities and port-operated cruise parking for 1,800 vehicles. Additionally, the port will invest another $11 million at Cruise Terminal 25 and 28 which will include two new passenger boarding bridges, expanded check-in and screening areas, additional parking and traffic management improvements

The Port of Galveston saw remarkable growth in 2022, welcoming one million cruise passengers, marking the first time it has achieved this milestone since before the pandemic, according to its recent Tourism Economic Impact Report. Additionally, Galveston Island saw over eight million visitors, a 25% increase from 2021. 

This year, the port reached its one millionth cruise passenger on August 28, putting it on track to break last year’s record.   

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