McCarthy Completes Largest Public Port Project on Texas Coast

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Velasco Terminal, Berth 8 at Port Freeport. Photo courtesy of McCarthy Building Companies.

McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. ("McCarthy") has completed construction of Berth 8 at Port Freeport, Texas. Part of the Velasco Terminal, Berth 8 features over 925 feet of berth and an associated roll-on/roll-off dock extension. The expansion represents the single largest project built by a public port on the Texas Gulf Coast. McCarthy began construction in 2020 and achieved substantial completion in May 2023.

The scope of work included demolition of an existing concrete relieving platform, dry excavation, combi-wall bulkhead installation, construction of the new wharf which included wharf piling, mechanical and hydraulic dredging, mudline/shoreline protection system, and mooring and breasting system, plus the rehabilitation of the existing Berth 7 fender system. McCarthy self-performed all aspects of the project except for hydraulic dredging, electrical and crane rail installation.

Over 1,400 steel piles were installed on this project. The new berth also had to be constructed without disrupting access to Berth 7, requiring careful coordination while vessels were docked. McCarthy also worked to protect the shoreline, using a grout-filled mattress system in lieu of the originally designed 30-inch riprap, thereby preventing future maintenance dredging obstructions.

For one of the unique aspects of the project, McCarthy built a roll on/roll off dock structure which allows for vehicles and large equipment to unload and load from a vessel to the wharf. This structure can be adapted to become a ship-to-shore crane rail berth when post-Panamex gantry cranes are installed. This flexibility ensures the new dock has the ability to meet the diverse needs of Port Freeport.

“McCarthy has extensive experience in building and rehabilitating port and marine projects on the Texas coast, and this project once again allowed our team to showcase our expertise,” said Fitz O’Donnell, senior vice president of operations for McCarthy. “We were honored to work with Port Freeport on such an important project as they work to support commerce in the region.”

Berth 8 was dredged to minus 51 feet, matching the depth of the Freeport Harbor Channel Improvement Project, allowing it to handle newer, larger container vessels transiting the expanded Panama Canal.

McCarthy has worked at various ports along the Gulf Coast for more than 30 years. McCarthy’s experience in marine construction spans a diverse array of project types including petrochemical liquid terminal facilities, bulk cargo handling terminals to deep water container terminals and ship docks. McCarthy undertakes complex projects for public clients such as Port Freeport, the Port of Beaumont and Port Houston, as well as private mid-stream clients and is partner of choice for EPC firms servicing oil and gas and petrochemical clients.