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Port seeks federal aid for track extension


By Ken Stickney


The federal government is weighing a grant application for $4.8 million to the Port of Port Arthur, money that, if OK’d, would extend the working boundary of the port and allow it some flexibility in handling additional cargos.

Larry Kelley, port director and CEO, said the port would match the federal money with $2 million of port money to help the project move forward.

Basically, he said, the $6.8 million project would extend an additional 820 feet of rail into the port, and would enable workers to more easily handle different types of loads, placing them directly onto rail.

“We would stabilize the area and put it all under asphalt,” he said. That includes about 12 inches deep in two different types of concrete.

“It’s a far more efficient way to move tonnage,” Kelley said. “It will lower costs for the shipper and for the port, which makes it a job creator.”

Kelley said the port’s application was made to Economic Development Administration of the Commerce Department. EDA won’t approve federal funding unless it helps job growth.

A public notice published Friday in the Port Arthur News said the project would add 820 track feet of rail and would pave 5.2 acres of partially developed property.

The Commerce Department said in a July 20 letter to the port that project will get additional consideration for funding, although that funding is not yet guaranteed.

Kelley said additional steps include an administrative review and design work.

Because the project is at the port, it must meet mandates of the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Historic Preservation Act. Those with information about impacts to historic properties or environmental resources should provide it in writing to Corey Dunn, regional environmental officer, Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration, 903 San Jacinto Blvd., Suite 206, Austin, Texas 78701.

The port is located at 100 Houston Ave. and the project would largely be beyond the easy sight of the public.