The Channel Improvement Project will increase opportunities for use of the waterway and enhance economic benefits to Jefferson County, the state of Texas and the United States. Anticipated economic benefits include billions of dollars in economic benefits and thousands of new jobs – both during construction and at project maturity.
The Sabine-Neches Navigation District, the local “non-federal sponsor” of the Sabine-Neches Waterway, is working with the federal government to approve a project that would deepen the waterway from 40 feet to 48 feet. The waterway had its first “deepening and widening” in 1912, and has been improved three more times, with the last occurring in 1962. Since the last improvement nearly 50 years ago, ship design has evolved tremendously and competition between U.S. ports has increased. Deepening the channel would:
- Allow larger ships to reach local ports
- Better manage waterway traffic
- Take advantage of Panama Canal expansion
- Keep southeast Texas competitive with other U.S. ports
- Maintain current jobs and create new jobs
- Increase tax revenue
- Stimulate economic development
- Secure area’s future as America’s Energy Gateway and the nation’s largest military out-load port
Sabine-Neches Waterway Channel Improvement Project Milestones
In July 2011, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers signed the Chief’s Report on the proposed deepening of the Sabine-Neches Waterway. This concluded a nearly 14-year assessment of the proposed deepening of the Sabine-Neches Waterway from 40 feet to 48 feet. The following November, the Assistant Secretary of the Army signed the Chief’s Report, approving transmission of the project to the U.S. Congress for authorization and funding.
In May 2013, the U.S. Senate passed the Water Resource Development Act (WRDA) (S.601), which maintains the flow of commerce by improving the nation’s water infrastructure. In October, the U.S. House of Representatives passed its version of the bill, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) (H.R.3080). The bill authorizes construction of the proposed Sabine-Neches Waterway channel improvement project.
In June 2014, the Sabine-Neches Waterway deepening project achieved its final milestone for federal approval. President Obama signed the Water Resources Reform and Development Act into law, emphasizing the positive impact of the bill on the country and American communities and praising the broad bipartisan support.
Now, the deepening project is federally authorized to move forward. The next phase of the journey – the financing and construction process – is underway. The widespread economic benefits of the project will begin immediately. Construction jobs, indirect jobs and millions of dollars in local expenditures will generate a boost for our region. And once the project is complete, the improved waterway will continue to serve as the anchor for this area’s economic growth and continued progress.