The billion-dollar widening and deepening programme, Project 11, is the 11th major improvement of the channel in its more than 100-year history.
The project partnership agreement (PPA) between the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the Port of Houston Authority details the terms of the infrastructure expansion and permits the start of dredging the 52-mile-long federal waterway.
"Our port serves as the anchor for our Texas region,” said Port Houston executive director Roger Guenther. "It is a critical step to provide a wider, deeper channel that maintains two-way vessel traffic to more safely and efficiently deliver everyday goods and petrochemical products to and from the region. This expansion project will help us continue to lead as the top port in the nation, supporting over 3.2 million US jobs – including more than 1.35 million Texas jobs – and bringing $802 billion [£585bn] in economic value to the nation.”
Project 11’s first dredging contract is expected to be awarded as early as this October.