Port of Brownsville Notes Accomplishments, Project Advancements in 2022 Year in Review

Member Updates,

Photo courtesy of the Port of Brownsville.

Throughout 2022, the Port of Brownsville remained resilient and focused on its mission as the leading economic developer in the region through infrastructure expansions and business development to meet growing local and global demands.

Among notable accomplishments, the bellwether announcement was the historic Brazos Island Harbor Channel Improvement ("BIH") project signing ceremony to establish the joint agreement between the Brownsville Navigation District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for Phase 2 of the BIH project.

The agreement advances the project’s timeline to begin work on deepening the 17-mile-long ship channel from 42 feet to 52 feet, resulting in significant navigational safety improvements for commercial shipping in South Texas.

Exciting projects in progress and on the horizon at the Port of Brownsville provide a favorable outlook for a productive and transformative 2023.

First Quarter

In its annual State of the Port, the port reported record-breaking operating revenues for FY 2021 surpassed the $30 million mark for the second consecutive year at $34 million, while cargo tonnage amounted to 13.8 million tons, breaking a previous record of 11.6 million in 2020.

The Port of Brownsville held a ribbon cutting ceremony on March 4, for the Rio Grande Valley’s latest commerce route, the 1.9 mile-long South Port Connector Road. The new road officially opened to vehicular traffic on March 7.

U.S. Representatives Filemon Vela and Vicente Gonzalez announced on March 29, $68 million in federal funding through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers toward deepening the Brownsville Ship Channel.

The month of March closed with an economic roundtable discussion led by Texas Governor Greg Abbott who highlighted the port as a key component of Texas’ booming energy industry and as a critical asset to the Lone Star State’s economic success.

Second Quarter

The Pesquería operation began in full swing moving steel slab bound for Ternuim’s world-class steel mill in Monterrey. The port worked together with Ternium, port stevedore Gulf Stream Marine, the Brownsville Rio Grande International Railway, OmniTRAX and Class 1 Rail Provider Kansas City Southern de Mexico, on a major terminal development to maximize the efficient loading of open-top gondola railcars and expedite steel slab shipments to feed Ternium’s mill in Pesquería, Nuevo Leon.

Sunoco LP, one of the largest independent fuel distributors in the United States, began operations in the spring on its refined products terminal at the Port of Brownsville. This $55 million investment includes 560,000 barrels of storage capacity facilitating the company’s efforts to supply growing retail outlets in the region.

In May, 30 graduating high school seniors from throughout the Brownsville Navigation District ("BND") were selected to receive the annual Port of Brownsville Scholarship for $1,000. To date, the scholarship program, created in 2020 by the BND Board of Commissioners, has awarded $94,000 benefiting 94 high school students attending schools within the navigation district.

Crowds gathered along the shoreline of South Padre Island on May 31, to salute the arrival of the USS Kitty Hawk, the sixth U.S. Navy Aircraft Carrier to arrive at the port for recycling. ISL won the Navy contract and responsibility to recycle the Kitty Hawk, representing the fourth carrier it recycles.

Throughout the second quarter of 2022, ship recycling projects at the port have continued. In early April, All Star Metals received two U.S. Navy Austin-class amphibious transport docks – the USS Nashville and USS Ponce – for recycling. SteelCoast on June 3 announced the completion of the recycling of the USS Petersburg, three months ahead of schedule and without a safety incident.

In June, the Brownsville and Rio Grande International Railway completed the first phase of the expansion of the Palo Alto Yard at the Port of Brownsville. The upgrade includes the addition of three tracks of rail line, increasing the total static capacity of railcars at the yard to 398. The Palo Alto Yard is BRG’s largest interchange switchyard at the port.

July 6, the Brownsville Navigation District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers signed a joint agreement for Phase 2 of the Brazos Island Harbor Channel Improvement Project. The agreement advances the project’s timeline to begin work on deepening the 17-mile-long ship channel from 42 feet to 52 feet, resulting in significant navigational safety improvements for commercial shipping in South Texas.

At the close of July,  Pasha Hawaii, together with Keppel AmFELS announced the delivery of the M/V George III, the first liquefied natural gas powered vessel to fuel on the West Coast and the first to serve Hawaii. The M/V George is one of two Jones Act containerships built at the Port of Brownsville. The M/V George and its sister ship the M/V Janet Marie will join Pasha Hawaii’s fleet and serve the Hawaii/U.S. trade lane.

Third Quarter

The U.S. Foreign-Trade Zones Board’s 2021 report to Congress released on Aug. 29, announced Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) No. 62 at the Port of Brownsville scored second place in the country with more than $5.2 billion in exported goods in 2021. This marked an increase from the $4.1 billion reported in 2020.  The Port of Brownsville’s FTZ has consistently ranked in the top three for exports out of 193 FTZs nationwide since 2012. Additionally, FTZ No. 62 ranks 20th in the nation for the value of imports totaling $4.5 billion

From Sept.11-17, 2022,  the Port of Brownsville partnered with the Cameron County Regional Mobility Authority to celebrate National Truck Driver Appreciation Week.  In 2021, the port registered 438,000 truck movements representing an average of 1,200 truck movements per day. These truck drivers are tasked with the transportation of essential cargo like steel, wind energy components, refined petroleum products, grains, cement, and other commodities to support our way of life.

The Texas A&M Advanced Manufacturing Hub TRAIN program commemorated its first year of service in the Rio Grande Valley with a special announcement hosted at the Port of Brownsville on Sept. 26. The training program announced new memorandums of understanding with three local school districts, Brownsville Independent School District, Point Isabel School District, and Los Fresnos Consolidated Independent School District.

Motus Energy LLC announced Sept. 29, the completion of the first phase of the company’s expansion project at its T1 and T2 terminals located in the Port of Brownsville. The company also executed multiple contracts with leading customers in the region, including independent and major energy corporations, in support of the expansion, which allows increased movement of commodities between the United States, Mexico and other international markets.

Fourth Quarter

Nearly 500 participants hailing from throughout the Rio Grande Valley and Northern Mexico laced up their sneakers to enjoy the Port of Brownsville’s annual 5K1M Dock Dash walk/run community event on Oct. 15.

On Oct. 28, Cameron County officials unveiled a new I-169 sign designating an additional two miles of the route connecting the Port of Brownsville with I-69E. The Texas portion of I-69, which eventually will connect Canada with Mexico, includes multiple projects to make the entire stretch between Brownsville and Corpus Christi interstate-quality roadway with the I-69E designation.

DIX Industries was honored with the the 2022 Chairman’s Award by BND Chairman Esteban Guerra at the Port of Brownsville’s annual Customer Appreciation Luncheon on Dec. 14. The company was recognized for its many achievements throughout its 75 years of operation.