For more than a century, the Houston Ship Channel has been the backbone of the region’s economy. The waterway has facilitated the growth of Greater Houston into the booming economy it is today, and through ten previous major projects over the decades, the Port of Houston has grown into one of the top ports in the country.

Project 1

1853 – 1857

After the State of Texas appropriated $46,000, Buffalo Bayou and Galveston Bay are first improved for navigation.

Project 2

1870 – 1874

The first federal channel survey showed it to be at least 4 feet deep and 70 feet wide, and the first federal channel appropriations soon followed, at a project cost of $20,000.

Project 3

1877 – 1882

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers improved the channel to 14.5 feet across Galveston Bay, through Redfish Bar, and to the mouth of the San Jacinto River.

Project 4

1897 – 1908

The next federal project was 18.5 feet deep and the Turning Basin at the head of channel navigation was dredged.

Project 5

1912 - 1914

Official deep-water port: the Houston Ship Channel was opened for ocean-going vessels on November 1914, dredged to 25 feet deep and 150 feet wide.

Project 6


A federal project followed soon after and deepened the new ocean-going channel to 30 feet

Project 7


Following the unprecedented growth of Port of Houston refining facilities, the channel was again deepened, to 34 feet, and widened to 400 feet through Galveston Bay.

Project 8


The ship channel was a vital artery during World War II, bringing the onset of Port of Houston's petrochemical industries, and the next deepening to 36 feet followed in peacetime.

Project 9


Continued growth ushers in the federal project to deepen the channel to 40 feet

Project 10

1968 – 2005

To better serve Port of Houston manufacturing industries, the channel is deepened to 45 feet and 530 feet wide through Galveston Bay, and environmental restoration projects are constructed with dredged material.

Project 11

2012 – Present

The federal feasibility report studying proposed improvements is expected to be completed in May 2020, with Congressional authorization later in the year. The Port Authority, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and industry are working together to expedite the project start and its completion.