In lauding the efforts of the Commercial Division she remarked that “We have successfully retained cargo that was diverted during the prior year…and have increased cargo volume across most of our trade lanes.” She underscored the importance of partnership for continued success. Other notable accomplishments in 2016 highlighted by Chairman Longoria included successfully repurposing the former cruise terminal at Bayport to an automobile processing facility. She also underscored that Port Houston had secured a third weekly liner service from East Asia, increasing business through the Panama Canal, and “significantly improving Houston’s position in the East Asia container import and export market.”
Facilities owned and operated by Port Houston handled 34.8 million tons of maritime cargo in 2016, only three percent lower than 2015 despite headwinds from reductions in steel. “Steel imports were down as expected for the year,” Executive Director Roger Guenther observed in his staff report to the Port Commission, “but container volume and bulk products saw really positive gains.” Reflecting on 2016, Guenther further shared that these positive results “are a credit to the leadership of the Commission, staff, and all of our partners in remaining successful and competitive for the economic wellbeing of our region.”
“The New Year brings tremendous opportunity as well as challenges that we will continue to tackle, to keep Port Houston and our busy waterway growing and prospering,” Guenther added. Regarding the year ahead, Guenther noted two milestone anniversaries: Bayport Container Terminal will celebrate its 10th Anniversary in February, and Barbours Cut Container Terminal, the first container facility to serve the Gulf Coast, will turn 40 this summer. These two Port Houston terminals handle nearly 70 percent of container business in the Gulf. During the meeting, Chairman Longoria also congratulated Port Commissioners Clyde Fitzgerald, Roy Mease, and Dean Corgey on their recent reappointments to the commission. She noted that Port Commissioners “volunteer their time and expertise” to ensure that Port Houston “continues to drive regional and state prosperity.”
Port Commissioners, staff, and meeting attendees also heartily congratulated Chairman Longoria on her reappointment on January 9 th by the unanimous vote of members of the Harris County Commissioners Court and Houston City Council. Ms. Longoria has served as Commission Chairman since January 8, 2013. Noteworthy actions taken by the Port Commission today included approval of the audited financial statements for the Port Houston Restated Retirement Plan for the Fiscal Year ending July 31, 2016. The commission also approved a funding agreement with the Texas Department of Transportation and Port Terminal Railway Association, for constructing and completing the Broadway Second Main Track, which addresses a long standing bottleneck to ease freight rail movement of Port Houston cargo.
Chairman Longoria opened 2017’s first Port Commission meeting with words of remembrance and a moment of silence to honor Steve Stewart, founder, Chairman, and former President of Gulf Winds International, who passed away January 26 after an extended illness. She noted his many contributions to the maritime industry and to our region. The next meeting of the Port Commission is scheduled for March 21.