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BROWNSVILLE, RGV – The Port of Brownsville is number one on a statewide list of priorities for ports in Texas.

The port proposed the construction of a multimodal rail dock and road to provide a platform for future clients on over 500 acres of undeveloped waterfront property.

Eduardo Campirano
Eduardo Campirano

Eduardo Campirano, director and chief executive officer of the Port of Brownsville, gave the State of the Port Address Dec. 8. regarding the port’s activity and success within the past year as well as plans for the future.

According to the Port Authority Advisory Committee’s Texas Ports 2017-2018 Capital Program Project Summaries, the Port of Brownsville’s proposed project includes the construction of a 112,500-square-foot multimodal dock – an expansion of the Brownsville & Rio Grande International Railway track to allow the port to accept incremental new cargo and diversify the mix. The rail congestion issue that delays movements of cargo would also be solved by adding new facilities on a rail line with increased capacity.

Construction is set to begin early 2017 and complete by the third quarter of 2018.

“[We looked into how] we could expand our maritime trade capability by looking at a multimodal dock that … can tie all of the resource necessary – rail, road and water all in one location and that’s partly because we still have the landspace available to do that,” Campirano said.

The total construction value for the project is an estimated $32 million. The city is asking for a matching grant amount of about $16 million. Campirano said a FASTLANE grant with the Department of Transportation is about to be submitted to request funds at the federal level. Upon completion of the dock, the project is expect to create about 1,200 jobs and have an economic impact of about $19.4 million.

“This is a project that would help us not only sustain the activity, but to help us grow our existing our customer base so we’re excited about that prospect, but that is put together with the purpose and intent of seeking assistance from the state of Texas to invest in port infrastructure and that has been a long road to haul so we’re hoping this next legislative session will create some opportunities to begin to look at investment in our ports.”

Campirano opened his State of the City address with success stories from 2015, such as handling over 10.1 million tons of cargo and $20 million in revenue – the first time in the port’s history. The National Foreign Trade Zones Board released information regarding the port ranks second in the nation for the value of exports moving through – valued at $3.2 billion. With the close of 2016 approaching, the Port of Brownsville hopes to set new tonnage and revenue records.

“It might not top 2015 with incremental growth as we’ve seen in the past, but (it is) still positive growth and that speaks well for the area and it certainly speaks well for the port,” Campirano said. “We’re excited not only for how the year is going to end, but also excited for the coming year, some of the initiative and what we see on the horizon.”

Other successes include the launch of an electronic newsletter, Port Matters, about the port’s news, customer and partners as well as the recognition of the port’s economic impacts. According to a study commissioned by the Port of Brownsville, the port provided more than 44,000 jobs and $3 billion in annual state economic activity.