The Bay Area Houston Transportation Partnership meeting on Wednesday featured a presentation by Port of Houston Authority Chief Executive Officer Alec Dreyer. BayTran Chair Karen Coglianese welcomed the crowd to the meeting at Cullen’s Restaurant. Listen: MP3 RealPlayer
Dreyer was introduced by BayTran Vice Chair Bob Robinson.
Listen: MP3 RealPlayer
“We’ve got a lot of things going on at the port,” Dreyer said. “Very serious things at the port, all keyed around trying to improve the transparency at the port. But most importantly, making sure that the business that the port authority carries out for this region is enhanced, is improved.”
Dreyer said that the economic health of the port is very good.
“Total tonnage coming through the port is up over nine percent year-to-date over last year,” he said. “We have moved this year more steel in the first eight months at the port than we moved in the twelve months of last year.”
Dreyer said the port’s operating revenue is up 13 percent and the port’s income is up 27 percent.
He said completion of the Bayport Container Terminal and renovation of the Barbours Cut Terminal will position the port to accommodate the larger ships that will call after the completion of the Panama Canal project.
Questioned about the proposed terminal on Pelican Island, Dreyer said that project is not a priority now.
“At some point Pelican Island would be a very suitable candidate for a container terminal,” Dreyer said. “At some point. That point would require more infrastructure, more bridges, more highways, more roads to make it a viable alternative.”
He was also asked about the cruise ship terminal at Bayport.
“The cruise terminal is one of those economic challenges that was on my plate when I joined the port,” Dreyer said. “It’s a big challenge. You know Galveston is very tourist and destination oriented for cruise lines and that’s a huge challenge to other ports like Houston that don’t have that kind of draw or attraction.”
Dreyer said that the port has good support from the Houston area Congressional delegation.
"The support that we get from our federal delegation is amazing on this Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund issue," he said. He admitted that there is some opposition from "land locked" members of Congress who don't realize the importance of the port, but stressed that local legislators are united. "You've got very liberal Democrats and very conservative Republicans working hand to hand on this issue as part of our delegation."