Ports Area Mobility Study

About the Project

The Regional Goods Movement Plan, completed in 2012, recommended a follow-up study to analyze supply chain connections between the region’s four deepwater ports and emerging markets and to operate those supply chains efficiently without having to traverse the dense urban core. This recommendation was not a new idea at the time, but reflected a recommendation from previous TxDOT studies: the IH 69 corridor study, the I-69 Advisory Committee (a stakeholder / interest group) report, and the TxDOT Texas Freight Mobility Plan.

Historically, it seems the idea is officially cited at least as far back as 1991 with the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficient Act (ISTEA), which identified IH 69 as a “High Priority Corridor of National Significance” (See Sec. 1105 of the Act). This designation was rolled into the statement of purpose and need for a new Interstate, as detailed in a report titled the Corridor 18 Special Issues Study in 1997. Later, TxDOT and Texas State Government tried to leverage the various needs along the corridor and in the state economy into one composite economic development project and began work on the ill-fated Trans Texas Corridor in the early 2000's. Each study references the one before it and tried to update and/or expand the scope to better apply the previous findings to the current day.

More recently, the Houston-Galveston Area Council undertook a Regional Goods Movement Plan with the goal to initiate coordination between private and public stakeholders and identify different ranges of improvement strategies. Previous concepts were summarized with a map recommending a southern alignment around the region and connection back up to IH 69 on the northeast side (see the green route on the map on the right).

Draft Goals and Objectives

In order to accommodate the scope of the project, the following goals for the project are proposed.

  • Update the regional freight commodity-flow and infrastructure data. Data sources were purchased for the Regional Goods Movement Plan, but are now out of date and do not focus on the ports area of the region. It is also important to know not only what is being shipped, but on which modes it is traveling, where are the major destination points, and where might the next generation of distribution centers, for example, be located?
  • Identify a universe of improvement alternative. In order to address any identified needs brought by the data update and analysis, decision-makers need a broad range of options. This should include the latest compilation of long-running ideas as well as innovative options such as policy or operational changes.
  • Evaluate the worthiness of different alternatives. Using local input as the main source, this study should help decision-makers understand which would be the most effective and/or efficient course of action. The highest scoring alternatives should be broken down into their logical parts, planned, and priced as possible.
  • Engage private-sector and public agency partners throughout the process. At the conclusion of the study – no matter what the recommendations are – the greater Houston region should be able to count those private sector partners and public entities contacted and integrated into the process of the study. Subsequent study efforts, data or coordination requests, and investments in the ports area should be able to trace some aspect of their development or impact back to this study.
  • Allocate MPO-related funding the preferred improvement alternatives. At the end of the day, even an excellent study would not be sufficient in and of itself. Freight stakeholders have made it clear their future ability to keep pace with economic development and needs to increase job-creation and trade in the region requires improvements to the area’s infrastructure. While H-GAC is not an implementation agency, allocating the resources available to match local investment in pursuit of any or all of the recommended improvements is the ultimate goal of this study.

Conceptual Map

Public Involvement

The Ports Area Mobility Study will include a vigorous public outreach process that actively engages a wide range of stakeholders in the planning process. The Public Involvement Plan (PIP) incorporates a variety of meetings that will ensure that diverse public interests are being served, interested stakeholders are being educated, and that the comments and suggestions from the public reach the study team.

More Information

For more information, contact: Patrick Mandapaka, Patrick.Mandapaka@h-gac.com.