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Borderlands: Port Houston kicks off $1.1B ship channel expansion

Project 11 will allow the Houston Ship Channel to accommodate an additional 1,400 vessels per year and could generate up to $134 billion more annually in economic impact once completed. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Borderlands is a weekly rundown of developments in the world of United States-Mexico cross-border trucking and trade. This week: Port Houston kicks off a $1.1 billion ship channel expansion; trucks carried 68% of all U.S.-Mexico cargo moved in March; a Texas woman pleads guilty to embezzling millions from a shipping company; and Siemens plans to build a $35 million export plant in Mexico.

Port Houston kicks off $1B ship channel expansion

A project that has been in planning for more than a decade is finally underway with the formal kickoff Wednesday of the $1.1 billion expansion of the Houston Ship Channel.

Project 11 will allow the ship channel to accommodate an additional 1,400 vessels per year and could generate up to $134 billion more annually in economic impact once completed.

“This project will enable Port Houston to continue to grow and respond effectively to whatever the future demand in the supply chain has to offer,” Port Houston Executive Director Roger Guenther said in a release.

Port Houston is a 25-mile-long complex of nearly 200 private and public industrial terminals along the 52-mile-long manmade Houston Ship Channel, which connects the port to the Gulf of Mexico.

Project 11 will widen the Houston Ship Channel by 170 feet along its 26-mile Galveston Bay reach, to 700 feet wide. It will also deepen upstream segments from a current depth of 45 feet to a depth of 46.5 feet. Dredging began last week.

The channel currently accommodates about 8,200 vessels and 215,000 barges each year, hauling more than 247 million tons of cargo.

Project 11 will widen the Houston Ship Channel by 170 feet along its 26-mile Galveston Bay reach, to 700 feet wide. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

“This project is important on many levels, including improving the efficiency of our nation’s supply chains, promoting navigational safety, and creating environmental benefits through the innovative use of dredged material,” Michael Conner, assistant secretary of the Army (Civil Works), said in a statement.

Port Houston and the Army Corps of Engineers signed an agreement in August giving the port permits to start dredging the federal waterway. 

Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Co. was awarded a $95 million contract in October, which also includes oyster mitigation and construction of a bird island. 

The channel widening and deepening project is scheduled to be completed in 2025. Planning for Project 11 began in 2010.

Trucks carried 68% of all US-Mexico cargo moved in March

Trucks carried more than two-thirds of U.S.-Mexico cross-border freight in March, according to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

Cross-border trucking freight between the U.S. and Mexico totaled $47 billion, or 68% of all cross-border freight during March, up 16% from the same period last year.

Rail transported $8.5 billion worth of U.S.-Mexico freight in March, followed by ocean vessels          at $8.4 billion, air transport at $2 billion and pipelines at $900 million.

The top three cross-border truck commodities during March were computers and parts, $16 billion, electrical machinery, $13 billion, and motor vehicles and parts, $10.8 billion.

The three busiest truck ports for cross-border freight during March were Port Laredo, Texas, accounting for $20 billion; Detroit, $10.7 billion; and Port Huron, Michigan, $6.9 billion.

Texas woman pleads guilty to embezzling millions from shipping company

A Dallas woman recently pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $2.6 million from a global logistics and supply chain management firm, federal officials announced.

Vika Latai Moa, 36, admitted to committing wire fraud between June 2016 and October 2019 against Savino Del Bene USA Inc., a freight forwarding company based in Florence, Italy. 

Moa was an operations manager for Savino’s Dallas-area office. She was responsible for selecting and paying subcontractors. 

According to authorities, Moa lied to Savino about payments owed to trucking companies by submitting false invoices totaling more than $2.6 million to a bank account that she had access to. 

Moa faces up to 20 years in federal prison. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 22. 

Siemens to build $35M plant in Mexico

Infrastructure supplier Siemens announced it is building a 193,000-square-foot electrical components plant in Nuevo León, Mexico, according to El Financiero.

The facility, which will create 450 direct jobs, is expected to produce up to 874,000 low-voltage electrical parts per day aimed at reducing carbon emissions.

The products will be exported to Siemens customers in North America and Europe. Nuevo León is just outside Monterrey, Mexico, about 139 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border.

Germany-based Siemens is a multinational industrial manufacturing firm. The company has about 377,000 employees in more than 200 countries. Its customers include Raytheon and Navistar.

Watch: FreightWaves’ carrier update for June 3.

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Noi Mahoney

Noi Mahoney is a Texas-based journalist who covers cross-border trade, logistics and supply chains for FreightWaves. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in English in 1998. Mahoney has more than 20 years experience as a journalist, working for newspapers in Florida, Maryland and Texas. Contact [email protected]