Port of Port Arthur leader explains “flyover” need, construction timeline

Published 12:20 am Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Several major issues hampering access to the Port of Port Arthur are going to be alleviated with the construction of an elevated roadway similar to an overpass.

The roadway, called a flyover, allows ingress and egress to the Port, even when trains are rolling through the property, and later when the city’s levee system is upgraded and raised.

“The reason for the port flyover (overpass) is tied to the Port’s continued growth: we are clearly building for the future,” said Port of Port Arthur Director/CEO Larry Kelley.

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“As a driver to local job creation and economic development the flyover is a next step. Our berth 6 development will wrap up this summer, and we are excited about increasing cargo opportunities. We are building a dock to the MLK Bridge. That project adds 1,000 feet of dock and a modest stabilized backlands area.”

A rendering of the Port flyover as seen from the West Side looking toward the Port of Port Arthur. (Courtesy photo)

Kelley said the Port, like the city, depends on the Canadian Pacific Kansas City railroad and the flood protection levee. While this is critical infrastructure, they both create challenges for the future.

The flood protection levee splits the Port property, and during a hurricane event, the Port works with Jefferson County Drainage District No. 7 and closes the gate to protect the city.

The same effort occurs with the railroad, where the gate panels are installed. A gate closure is planned days before a major weather event, such as a tropical storm or hurricane.

The Port remains accessible to Port workers and emergency responders with the present configuration. During a hurricane, access to the Port is necessary and work continues during a storm, Kelley said.

In the past the Port has been used as an emergency response platform and aided in the restart of waterborne commerce.

“Hurricane Ike is a good example. Several vessels sought safe harbor and were accessed by port staff and emergency responders,” he said. “Over the years, the port’s building has stored some public service equipment during storm events.”

Location, funding

A majority of the flyover is located on Port or Canadian Pacific Kansas City land.

More than one-third of the approximately 2,400 feet long project is located inside Port property. Another third is the “fly over” of the rail tracks and the levee system. The final part, or landing, is near Denbo Avenue, adjacent to where Port Iron was once located on the West Side of the city.

Project sponsor Texas Department of Transportation Maritime Division is supporting a $20 million investment in the city, and the Port of Port Arthur is providing a $5 million match, Kelley said.

The Port hosted a series of community meetings in December at the Westside Development Center and more sessions are planned. Some of the concerns raised by residents were questions of if the flyover could be seen from nearby West Rev. Dr. Ransom Howard Street and of the definition of flyover in terms of an overpass,.


Kelley said officials hope to award a design-build contract in the fall, with construction to begin in spring 2025.

Also in December, the leaders of the Port of Port Arthur, along with other areas ports, gathered in Orange to detail their respective projects and thank lawmakers who worked to make the funding available, including Sen. Robert Nichols, who is chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, and Rep. Dade Phelan, Speaker of the House.

This marked the first time in Texas history Texas public ports received port infrastructure funding from the State of Texas.

The 88th Session of the Texas Legislature appropriated $220 million in funding.

“Southeast Texas ports did very well with $66 million in funding to ports in Sabine Pass, Orange, Beaumont and the Port of Port Arthur,” he said. “We sincerely appreciate the vision of our board leadership and the support of our local legislative delegation.”