About 800 elected officials, port commissioners, community leaders, labor leaders and representatives of the maritime industry turned out on February 8 to watch the arrival of a new era
in the containerized cargo market. The Berth of Bayport Container and Cruise Terminal provided the 800 guests the opportunity to witness the opening phase of the most technologically advanced container terminal on the U.S. Gulf Coast.
The Port of Houston Authority dominates the U.S. Gulf Coast containerized
cargo market. Currently, PHA handles 64 percent of that market along the U.S. Gulf, and 94 percent of the waterborne containers moving through Texas. Most of that activity takes place at PHA's companion container terminal at Barbours Cut. The Barbours Cut terminal was built in the 1970s and is operating above designed capacity.
Container throughput at Houston's port has risen at an average growth rate of more than 10 percent per year for the last 15 years. Studies conducted by the Texas Transportation Institute predict a continued worldwide container growth rate of 7.2 percent through 2010. The study also estimates annual growth rates as high as 13 percent along the Gulf of Mexico.
Conservative projections suggest Bayport will have a profound impact on the local economy. After five years of operation, the combined container and cruise terminal is projected to generate 9,825 jobs, $395.4 million in personal income, $1.1 billion in business revenue and $35.6 million in state and local taxes. At full build-out of the facility in 15 or more years, 32,163 jobs, $1.4 billion in personal income, $2.4 billion in business revenues and $128 million in state and local taxes will be produced from Bayport's operations. Roger Guenther, PHA General Manager of Container Terminals, will manage Bayport. CMA CGM, the world's third largest shipping company, is the first customer at Bayport and will be joined by Mediterranean Shipping Company as the only two steamship lines calling at Bayport for the foreseeable future.