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Corpus Christi Port Channel Dredging Project Hits a $nag

Equipment similar to these being used in Aberdeen Harbor, Scotland, could soon be seen in the Corpus Christi Ship Channel. Courtesy photo

The first bids are in for the long-awaited channel dredging project, but they are a bit too high, according to the Port of Corpus Christi. Negotiations are now underway to bring the price in line with what the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is allowed to pay. The port did not release the bid totals but did state that the Corps of Engineers is not allowed to accept bids more than 125 percent over the government estimate, which was $32 million.

Two of four elements of the Port of Corpus Christi’s Channel

Dredging Project are complete. The next elements — the actual dredging, which will be done in four steps — are now in process with an estimated timeline for completion by 2021.

That lines up with the timing of the opening of the new Harbor Bridge, which the port expects to usher in a new era of economic growth. Since the federal government lifted its ban on foreign crude oil exports in December 2016, the Port of Corpus Christ has become the top energy port in the nation.

Dredging the Corpus Christi Ship Channel to 530 feet wide by 52 feet deep will allow for the bigger Supermax and Very Large Crude Carrier ships to fully load at inner harbor docks, cutting down on costs while decreasing the chances of environmental damage through leaks into the air and water.

The first element completed was to extend La Quinta Channel 1.4 miles, widen it to 400 feet, and deepen it to 45 feet. Next, the port restored an ecosystem that protects 45 acres of existing seagrass beds from waves and currents and created a 2,200-foot offshore breakwater to stop erosion that can kill fish and other animal habitats.

Dredging design and bids are next and include four contracts:

• The first dredging contract will cover from the Gulf to the Harbor Island area and is currently out for bids. It would deepen the channel to 54 feet and widen it to 530 feet.

• The second contract will cover from Harbor Island to the Ingleside-La Quinta channel intersection.

• Third will be the dredging and widening of the ship channel from Ingleside to the Harbor Bridge.

• The fourth and final contract will cover the dredging of the inner harbor.

The port is now reworking estimates for the other three stages to prevent any other surprises.

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