Project 1

1853 – 1857

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

Old photo showing Buffalo Bayou and Galveston bay
Project 2

1870 – 1874

The first federal channel survey shows the Houston Ship Channel to be at least 4 feet deep and 70 feet wide, and the first federal channel appropriations soon follow, at a project cost of $20,000.

Old photo of Houston ship channel.
Project 3

1877 – 1882

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

Old photo of the channel.
Project 4

1897 – 1908

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

Old photo of ship carrying load passing through channel.
Project 5

1912 - 1914

The Houston Ship Channel is dredged to 25 feet deep and 150 feet wide, and is officially established as a deep-water port. The channel opens for ocean-going vessels in November 1914.

Old photo of well-dressed couple with channel in the background as boat passes.
Project 6


A federal project follows soon after and deepens the new ocean-going channel to 30 feet.

Photo of industrial storage tanks.
Project 7


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

Aerial depiction of growing city.
Project 8


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

Aerial photo of ship channel and growing city around it in black and white.
Project 9


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

Car going under bridge where container shows
Project 10

1968 – 2005

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

Photo of large ship in channel.
Project 11

2012 – Present

December 2020, Port Houston received WRDA authorization, soon followed by the New Start designation to begin construction for expansion of the channel. August 2021 – The formal presentation of the Project Partnership Agreement commits Port Houston to the responsibilities of the project as the local non-federal sponsor. Port Houston, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and industry are working together to expedite the project’s completion.

Ship in the channel.