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Improvements on the Panama Canal plus renovations at the Port of Corpus Christi could mean more efficient shipping for Texas cotton.
Gulf Coast improving facilities
Fields says officials at the Port of Corpus Christi, the nation's sixth largest port in tonnage, recognize the potential of providing services to post-Panamax size vessels as a result of construction improvements underway in Panama. Like many other ports on the East and Gulf coasts, the Port of Corpus Christi is racing to improve facilities to handle the demand and requirements of the oversize container ships that have become the standard for maritime shipping companies.
With the ability to pass through the Panama Canal, these giant ships will be able to reach ports in the South and on the East Coast without taking the longer and more expensive route through the Suez Canal.
Gulf Compress, located on port property with over two million square feet of warehouse space, is a cooperative association organized in 1950 for the purpose of providing safe, dependable storage and services for South Texas cotton producers. Owned and controlled by 21 member cotton gins and associations stretching up and down the Texas coastline, the company is directed by member representatives and a full time staff.
The company's latest cotton warehouse project serves as the anchor for the Port of Corpus Christi's massive $400 million La Quinta International Trade Gateway. Expanded cotton production throughout South Texas over the last 15 years had forced the compress to lease additional storage facilities, so constructing the $13.5 million dollar new container warehouse in 2004 was the best solution to a growing South Texas cotton industry.
Plans call for La Quinta to be a state-of-the-art container facility to handle significant amounts of cargo to and from key market areas including Latin America, the Pacific Southwest, Asia, and Central and Southwest Texas. When completed, it will include a marine terminal with storage areas, a wharf capable of handling three container ships simultaneously, nine cranes to load and unload cargo, a rail terminal, and dredge material placement areas.
Fields says the Trade Gateway is just one of many projects that will carry the port into the future. Port officials have already spent about $70 million to extend the ship channel well over a mile and are in the process of completing docks to handle larger ships. In addition, plans are underway to deepen the channel to 45 feet and eventually 52 feet, deep enough to handle the larger container ships that will be coming through Panama.
The company's massive port warehouse is located on 1,100 acres of port property and surrounded and serviced by rail service.