FREEPORT — About two years after its groundbreaking, Port Freeport celebrated the completion of Phase 1 construction of the Parcel 14 Rail Development project and its future economic impact with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Project officials, commissioners, staff and guests gathered Friday at Texas Port Ministry, where the 21,000 linear feet of rail track crosses behind the building. Union Pacific put two engines on the track for the occasion and Port Freeport CEO Phyllis Saathoff said she looks forward to that being a regular sight.
Parcel 14 is a 250-acre site adjacent to Highway 36 between FM 1495 and the Brazos River Diversion Canal, according to a news release. Phase 2 of the project will add another 24,000 feet of main tracks parallel to the already-constructed 21,000 feet, a news release states.
Eventually, the site across Highway 36 will be developed into a multimodal industrial park complete with new warehousing facilities for plastic resins packaging, cross-docking activities and distribution centers, according to the release.
James Construction is handling the $21-million Parcel 14 Rail Development Project. The completed tracks include 6,000-foot lead track spurring from the Union Pacific main line at Cherry Street, which crosses Highway 36 and then connects to three ladder tracks of approximately 5,000 feet each, the news release states.
A recent Texas A&M Transportation Institute economic analysis determined Port Freeport and the Freeport Harbor Channel generate more than $98 billion in total economic impact in the state, Port Commission Chairman Shane Pirtle said at Friday’s ceremony.
Projects like the Parcel 14 continue to add economic growth and prosperity to Texas, he said.
“It’s necessary for us to have the right waterside and landside infrastructure to maintain efficient supply chain for the region and for the nation,” Saathoff said.
There are several initiatives to do this, including the multimodal industrial park, the deepening of the Freeport Harbor Channel to 51 to 56 feet and expanding the Velasco Container Terminal, she said.
These projects make it possible for Port Freeport to support vessel calls from the largest container carriers around the globe and some of the largest produce companies, Saathoff said.
The completion of Phase 1 of the Parcel 14 project is an important milestone, she said, adding that she hopes everyone understands “how remarkable” that day was.
“It enhances the port’s landside capabilities and supply chain efficiencies to support the continued economic expansion in the region,” Saathoff said.
Several companies and engineers worked together to make sure this project was carefully and expertly designed and built, she said. This supports first-class service to current and future port customers, she said.
“The port and the Freeport Harbor Channel will surely continue to create jobs and further increase economic impacts to this community, to the state and to the nation,” Saathoff said.