PORT LAVACA - The Calhoun Port Authority is working to construct a new ship pier at the Port of Port Lavaca-Point Comfort.
The new pier would be able to accommodate ships up to 145 feet wide and 900 feet long, port director Charles Hausmann said.
Hausmann gave a presentation on the port at a Port Lavaca Chamber of Commerce breakfast Wednesday. More than 50 businessmen and women attended.
The port has four ship piers, and the largest ship the port can accommodate is 109 feet wide and 810 feet long.
The authority is the process of conducting environmental and feasibility studies and hopes to submit a permit to the United States Army Corps of Engineers in the next eight to 10 months, Hausmann said.
"We need to have this project because we are running out of room to continue to grow on the berths we currently have to accommodate future growth," he said.
The authority entered into a federal cost share agreement with the U.S. Corps of Engineers in August to do a feasibility study to come up with a design to widen and deepen the Matagorda Ship Channel, Hausmann said.
The study has begun and will take three years to complete, he said.
The study would explore the economics of updating the channel and the detentions needed.
The channel has a 200-foot bottom width and a permitted maximum depth at minus 36 feet, Hausmann said.
"We're very limited to the types of vessels we can bring in with a narrow channel at this time," he said.
At this point, the authority would like to update the channel to have a 400-foot bottom width and a permitted maximum depth at minus 45 feet, he said.
"For future growth and expansion, we're going to need to have a wider, deeper channel," he said.
The authority is a nonfederal sponsor of the channel to the Harbor of Refuge and the channel to the Port Lavaca Harbor, both located in Port Lavaca, Hausmann said.
As a nonfederal sponsor, the authority makes sure the channels are maintained. Within the next month, dredging is expected to begin on both channels to take out all the material that has accumulated over time.
The last time the channels were dredged was in 2002, Hausmann said.
As a nonfederal sponsor, the authority worked with Congressman Blake Farenthold to get the dredging 100 percent funded by the federal government.
"The contract came in at $2.14 million, so it saved the citizens of Calhoun County a lot," he said.
The port has four ship piers, six barge slips and a multipurpose dock and can accommodate 15 to 18 barges.