The Houston Ship Channel port complex and its public and private terminals, collectively known as the Port of Houston, is now the No. 1 port in the United States in terms of total waterborne tonnage, newly released government statistics show. It is also ranked first for foreign waterborne tonnage and number of vessel transits.
Nearly 285 million tons of cargo moved through the Port of Houston overall in 2019, which was about 47 million tons more than any other U.S. port and a 6% increase compared to the previous year. According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Navigation and Civil Works Decision Support Center, which tracks and compiles the statistics, the Port of Houston surpassed the Port of South Louisiana, which previously held the top spot. For 24 years, the Port of Houston has been No. 1 in foreign waterborne tonnage and the Houston Ship Channel is the busiest waterway in the nation, handling on average approximately 50 deep water vessels per day.
The Port of Houston is comprised of Port Houston’s eight public terminals and almost 200 private terminals situated along the Houston Ship Channel. The Port of Houston drives $802 billion in annual national economic value and supports more than three million U.S. jobs.
“The Port of Houston is the undisputed leader nationally as a result of the continued growth of commerce that moves through the busiest waterway in the U.S.,” said Port Houston Executive Director Roger Guenther. “When you consider the strategic importance of Houston to America’s energy sector, its economic value as the leading export region, and the rapid expansion of imported goods to meet consumer demand of a large and growing population, it clearly highlights the need to expedite the improvements of the Houston Ship Channel to ensure safe and efficient trade for the nation.”
As the local sponsor and an advocate of the Houston Ship Channel, Port Houston currently is partnering with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as well as private industry on a plan to expand the channel at an accelerated pace.
The Houston Ship Channel Expansion – Project 11 will widen the channel by 170 feet along its Galveston Bay reach, from 530 feet to 700 feet. It will also deepen upstream segments to 45 feet, make other safety and efficiency improvements, and craft new environmental features.
With the help of their partners, Port Houston aims to begin this work as early as 2021, making the channel safer and more efficient and ensuring this waterway remains the national economic powerhouse it is today.