Port of Harlingen Reaches Milestone Ranking Among U.S. Ports

Member Updates,

Photo courtesy of the Port of Harlingen.

The Port of Harlingen was among the top 150 ports in the United States for waterborne tonnage in 2021, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (“USACE”), which ranked the port 106th in its recently released report “The U.S. Coastal and Inland Navigation System: 2021 Transportation Facts & Information.”

“This is a significant milestone for the Port of Harlingen,” Port Director Walker Smith said. “Not only in exhibiting our growth over the last few years, but also in giving our Port substantial leverage for federal funding and project viability.”

Data captured for the report comes from 2020 vessels, tonnage, commodity, and origin and destination from vessels operating companies. The information is intended to assist USACE’s navigation mission by providing statistics used to analyze the feasibility of new projects; and set priorities for new investments and for the operation, rehabilitation, and maintenance of existing projects. This includes the $2.6 million recently completed Port of Harlingen main channel and turning basin operation and maintenance dredging. The project was funded by the USACE with $1.7 million and a portion by the Port of Harlingen, $845,000.

“Without this data, our port would not have the strong basis for funding needs it currently does,” Smith said. “As business grows, so does the demand for maintenance and physical growth. Without these reports, federal agencies and organizations would not have a basis of need for funding allocations. So reporting is so important to our ports.

As published, the Port of Harlingen had more than 2.5 million tons of marine cargo moving along its docks and channel, a 48% increase over the previous year. Over the last five years, waterborne tonnage has increased by 195% (880,321: FY 2017-18), and barge traffic has had a 95% increase (325: FY 2017-18). Similarly, overall tonnage rose to more than 3.2 million for the Port of Harlingen, a 113% increase over the same period.

The Port of Harlingen was one of 12 Texas ports included in the list. Texas ranked first in U.S. waterborne traffic by state with more than 600 million tons of cargo.

“Our outlook is only getting better, and we foresee us moving up on this list in the coming years,” Smith said. “This is a testament to our port’s leadership and that of our community and region in promoting economic growth and success.”