Port Corpus Christi Anchors Coastal Texas Economy
Port Corpus Christi is a focal point of expansion activity that promises to be a major catalyst to the Coastal Bend of Texas economy.
The port is the fifth-largest in the United States in terms of total cargo tonnage. Three rail carriers serve the port, and several major highways connect it to major U.S. and Mexican destinations. The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway meets the port’s ship channel, providing excellent access to U.S. inland waterways.
More than 40,000 direct and indirect Coastal Bend region jobs are tied to port activity with nearly $2.2 billion in personal income.
Port Projects Impact Coastal Bend of Texas
Ambitious projects designed to diversify port activity are expected to impact the region for years to come.
La Quinta Trade Gateway Terminal is a major component of the port’s long-term development plan. Located on an 1,100-acre greenfield site on the north side of Corpus Christi Bay, this project will provide a state-of-the-art, multipurpose dock and container facility. Project features include extension of the La Quinta ship channel, construction of a 3,800-foot, three-berth ship dock with nine ship-to-shore cranes, 180 acres of container/cargo storage yards, an intermodal rail yard and more than 400 acres for on-site distribution and warehouse centers.
“Completion of this project will enable the port to diversify its capabilities and spur further trade growth for the region,” says John LaRue, executive director of Port Corpus Christi.
LaRue says this is particularly significant given the planned widening of the Panama Canal, which is expected to have a significant effect on deep-water port facilities on the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean.
Another major project on the port property is development of the former U.S. Naval Station Ingleside, which was vacated in 2010. The 483-acre site includes 70 buildings, and the port has incorporated an additional 435 acres of adjacent property into the project. Early in 2011, Canyon Supply & Logistics announced it would develop the industrial part of the facility for the oil and gas industry and expects to provide some 2,500 jobs within five years.
In addition, Flint Hills Resources has agreed to purchase a small craft pier and related property at Ingleside to support the shipment of waterborne cargo related to the Eagle Ford Shale, a major oil and gas find that includes several counties in Coastal Texas.
$3.2 Billion Las Brisas Energy Project Fuels Expansion
Las Brisas Energy Center, a 1,320 gross megawatt electric-generating facility to be located on the north side of the port’s inner harbor, also holds great promise. The $3.2 billion energy center will provide low-cost, reliable electric power for users throughout the Coastal Bend Region at competitive prices. The plant will be a state-of-the-art facility utilizing highly sophisticated equipment to generate clean energy. The plant is scheduled to be fully operational by 2014.
With Texas leading the country in development of wind farms, Port Corpus Christi has also beefed up its wind handling capabilities. It is now the largest importation point of wind turbine equipment in the state of Texas. The port is also looking at the potential of harnessing of South Texas winds at port-owned sites to generate clean electrical power for the local community.
“We are encouraged by these developments to expand and improve our port; they certainly enhance the competitiveness of our region,” LaRue says.