Terminal Link Texas, part of a public-private partnership with the Port of Houston, broke ground last week on a 25-acre container yard that will increase the port's stacking capacity by up to 80%, according to the Houston Business Journal.
As part of the P3 deal, the company will lease the yard but designate 14 acres for the port, which processes two-thirds of Gulf of Mexico container traffic. Port Houston officials said volumes for the first half of 2017 were 14% ahead of the year-ago period.
The project is part of a $333 million capital program planned through the end of 2018. Included in the major initiative are two new wharfs and more infrastructure as well as technological enhancements and additional funding for maintenance and security.
Like other infrastructure assets, many key ports are aging and so are in need of upgrades ranging from energy-efficient LED lighting to deeper channels and new berths to handle the larger ships in the water today.
Yet ports have been playing catch-up since the Great Recession as far as capital investments are concerned, Joshua Brogan, vice president at global management consulting firm A.T. Kearney, told Construction Dive earlier this month. When upgrades do happen, they will likely focus on automating port processes with high-tech cranes, container selection and container delivery to trucks and rail cars.
Capacity remains a concern, too. Ports lose out on revenue if they can't handle a fully-loaded post-Panamax container ship. In addition to larger berths, bigger ships also require taller cranes and deeper water — expensive, albeit necessary, improvements.
A joint venture between Moss & Associates and Kiewit Infrastructure South Co. is working to address those issues at the Port Everglades facility in Broward County, FL. That project includes larger berths, bigger cranes and more deepwater turnaround space.
Some ports are taking advantage of adjacent land to increase revenues. Most deals involve only port-related activities, but the San Diego Unified Port District plans to use the extra space for mixed-use retail and entertainment venues. The goal to draw visitors by making the area around the port a tourist destination.