CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The chairman of the Corpus Christi Port Commission says the financial fall out from the coronavirus has so far reduced port revenue by about 10%, but the really difficult times haven't struck yet.
It was about 10 years ago when the Port of Corpus Christi started planning for the dredging of the 36 mile long Corpus Christi channel. The estimated cost at that time was around $200 million. Charlie Zahn, the chairman for the Port of Corpus Christi says it's now up to $700 million. He says the port has financed 1/3 of the cost, while the federal government needs to come up with the rest of the money. On top of all this, the timeline for the project has also changed.
"This project that we just started the second phase of is going to take about a year which will put us into mid-2021," Zahn said. 'We're probably looking at 2023 or maybe 2024 when we totally finish that project."
"The status of it is that we have a third-party and we're in the permitting stage of it. We were supposed to have the permit hearing for example on a contested case on our diesel project and of course because of COVID-19 and as part of the uncertainty of administrative hearings that's been delayed somewhat."
Zahn added that the board is still working with the corps of engineers in Galveston for the permits for the slips and for the bulkheads along with the rest of the infrastructure the port will be required to put it in at Harbor Island. We also asked Zahn about the impact COVID-19 has had financially on the port. He says the port has taken about a 10% hit. Hearing that and the huge decline in the oil industry, we wondered if the big industry would still look to move into this area soon?
"We are still responsible for a large portion of the oil in the United States and we're going to need it again you know just because we stop traveling, what is it now four months, does it mean that the citizens aren't going to be traveling in the future?" Zahn added.
Zahn also told us that it may take up to two years before our economy gets straightened out and he feels that will happen in large part because of our business-friendly regulations.
For the latest updates on coronavirus in the Coastal Bend, click here.
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