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Port Commission Approves MOAs With Army Corps for Maintenance Dredging at Barbours Cut and Bayport

HOUSTON, March 27, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Two Memoranda of Agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for maintenance dredging were approved by the Port Commission of the Port of Houston Authority at its March 26 meeting, including up to $550,000 for maintenance dredging of Barbours Cut Terminal berths and up to $400,000 for maintenance dredging for Bayport Terminal berths.

Executive Director Len Waterworth said that the Port Authority garnered a substantial savings for each contract by combining its requirements with channel maintenance and using the Army Corps of Engineers contracts for these projects.

The Port Commission also approved a $70,000 contract with CenterPoint Energy, Inc. for the rehabilitation of electric distribution lines at Bayport Terminal. Waterworth said that the availability of these lines is important for future development and having the option for employment of electric dredges, which can be quieter than diesel-powered hydraulic dredges.

In her introductory remarks at the meeting, Port Commission Chairman Janiece Longoria commented on the importance of the Port Authority's recent trip to Washington. Along with important stakeholders, such as manufacturers who utilize the Houston Ship Channel, the Texas Department of Transportation, and the Texas Ports Association, the Port Authority met with members of Congress and the Administration to highlight the positive national economic impact of ports and waterways and advocate for much-needed federal dredging dollars. As part of its mission to facilitate commerce along the Ship Channel and to grow jobs, the Port Authority is actively engaged with officials in Washington working on national policy issues affecting the port. Longoria said many voiced their support of addressing these critical issues.

"The Port Authority will continue to highlight these messages, in partnership with the strong bipartisan support we have from our local members of Congress, to ensure that the Port of Houston can continue growing and providing economic benefits to our region, state and nation," she said.

Longoria also expressed her appreciation to Port Commissioners for their strong leadership and direction on the Port Authority's policies and Task Forces.

Also at the meeting, Col. Christopher W. Sallese, Galveston District Commander, gave an update on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects and funding. He said the nearly 100-year relationship with the port was based on collaboration and a partnership that facilitates navigation on what he called "the Houston system" because "it's not just one port, it's multiple pieces of a port, Galveston and Texas City included, that also affects everything that happens along the coast."

He also reported that the Bayport Terminal permit decision was expected in June of this year and the Barbours Cut permit decision would come later.

In his monthly report, Executive Director Len Waterworth said that total tonnage at Port Authority facilities for the month of February (excluding bulk cargo associated with leased locations) increased by 158,000 tons or 7 percent while year-to-date tonnage of 4.7 million tons shows a decline of 2 percent.

"Coming off a decline in January of 11 percent, the February tonnage figures illustrate a solid month of operations for the port," he said.

The improvement in February comes largely from container tonnage, with an increase of 236,000 tons or 18 percent over February of 2012, offset by a decrease in steel.

February operating revenues were $18 million, up by 1 percent over last year, given the growth in container volumes. February operating expenses increased by $1 million or 10 percent, driven mainly by the growth in container volumes with year-to-date expenses growing by $1.6 million or 7 percent, largely driven by the increased container volumes.

For the year, the Port Authority has realized $12.6 million in net income, ahead of the prior year by 109 percent, Waterworth reported.

"The Port Authority's net funds available for capital expansion grew by $7 million to $273 million with the positive results of operations for February," he said.

Waterworth announced that the Port Authority was awarded a certificate of distinction for its investment policy by the Government Treasurers' Organization of Texas, which recognizes outstanding examples of written policies. The certificate is awarded for two years.

Waterworth also noted that the Union Pacific Railroad will offer a new, intermodal rail service from Barbours Cut Intermodal Container Transfer Facility to Dallas, Texas. The service, called the Texas Shuttle, will commence April 3, 2013, with two weekly trains northbound and two weekly trains southbound. UP will offer service beyond the railhead at Dallas/Wilmer.

Following the adjournment of Executive Session, Port Commissioners participated in an ethics training session, led by David McNamara, Counsel in the Legal Division. The Port Authority's latest Code of Ethics was revised in October.

The full meeting agenda is available on the Port of Houston Authority website, www.portofhouston.com/the-port-commission/public-meetings/agendas.

About the Port of Houston Authority

For nearly 100 years, the Port of Houston Authority has owned or operated the public cargo-handling facilities of the Port of Houston – the nation's largest port for foreign waterborne tonnage. The port is an economic engine for the Houston region, the state of Texas and the nation. It supports the creation of more than one million statewide jobs and more than 2.1 million nationwide jobs, and the generation of economic activity totaling more than $178.5 billion in Texas and $499 billion across the nation. For more information, visit the Port Authority website at: www.portofhouston.com.

The Port of Houston Authority logo is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=719

CONTACT: Bill Hensel, Manager, Corporate Communications Office: (713) 670-2893 Cell: (832) 452-5776 E-mail: bhensel@poha.com

Source:Port of Houston Authority