The ‘Berth of Bayport’ celebration at the start of 2007 heralded the beginning of a new era in container isation with the construction of the first phase of the Port of Houston Authority’s US$1.45 billion Bayport Container Terminal using the latest advances in technology. Bayport is equipped with electronic entry/access gate systems; computerised cranes; state-of-the-art security/surveillance equipment and environmental advances that make it the most ‘green’ container facility in the United States and a model container terminal for the future.
More than 50 years after the innovative concept of containerisation was born when the world’s first container ship arrived in Houston in 1956, Bayport is now one of the most modern container terminal along the US Gulf Coast. At a cost of US$400 million, the first phase of the Bayport facility is complete with more than US$90 million in materials handling and specialised equipment.
At buildout, Bayport will have enough space for seven ships and a 378-acre container storage yard with a maximum design capacity of about 2.3 million TEUs, increasing the Port Authority’s container capacity by 200 per cent. Presently, Bayport is equipped with four ship-to-shore and 12 rubber-tired gantry (RTGs) cranes, all high-tech tools requiring trained personnel. The ship-to-shore cranes can currently reach out 178 feet and can pick up a container weighing as much as 65 tonnes.
Minimum wait time is crucial to the successful operation of any high volume terminal and Bayport’s gate systems are designed to reduce that wait time to a fraction of the time it currently takes for trucks to process their loads. Bayport currently has eight inbound and four outbound lanes. The next phase will include an additional two inbound and outbound lanes each. Truckers can perform their transactions through intercom communication and hand-held computers without leaving their trucks.
PHA leaders had the foresight to anticipate growth in containerised cargo, which led to the construction of the Barbours Cut Container Terminal. Earlier this year, PHA celebrated the 30th anniversary of Barbours Cut, which now handles 72 per cent of all the containerised cargo in the US Gulf and 95 per cent of the containers moving through Texas. Although it has continued to achieve record increases in annual tonnages, TEUs, and revenues over the past few years, Barbours Cut has been safely operating above optimum capacity.
Bayport delivers jobs
According to the latest economic impact report by Martin Associates, in 2006, the Port of Houston generated a total of 785,049 jobs, about half of which or 393,147 were related to cargo activity at PHA terminals. At full buildout, the Bayport Container Terminal and Bayport Cruise Complex is expected to create more than 32,000 jobs. In its first five years alone, Bayport is expected to generate more than 9,800 jobs. The direct jobs at Bayport will range from everything involving loading and unloading cargo from vessels, crane operations, and facility maintenance, to clerical, administrative,Additional por t secur ity personnel have been hired and are on duty. Due to a key amendment to the Port Security Improvement Act of 2006, an increased number of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers were sent to US ports.