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BND Commission Dedicates Road Honoring Bill Reed

The Brownsville Navigation District Board of Commissioners passed a resolution December 21, 2016, naming the SH 550 extension “Bill Reed Road,” in honor of William “Bill” Reed for the contributions he made to the Port of Brownsville as a BND board member.

Reed was elected to the BND Board of Commissioners in 1978 and served until 1996. He was board chairman from 1986 to 1990. Bill Reed was the father of John Reed, former chairman and current vice-chairman of the BND.

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BND Vice-Chairman John Reed holds a replica of the Bill Reed Road sign during the unveiling ceremony December 21, 2016. John Reed is the son of Bill Reed.


Vulcan Materials Mexico Operation Support RGV Infrastructure Projects


Since 1987, Vulcan Materials has shipped crushed limestone throughout the Gulf from its 5,900-acre mine in Calica, Mexico, on the Yucatan Peninsula.

Unique to Vulcan’s operation is a proprietary harbor constructed adjacent to its mine, just south of Playa del Carmen. The harbor is connected to the mine by a five kilometer-long high speed 60-inch-wide conveyor system, moving up to 12 million tons annually of various grades of limestone, fines and related products to waiting ships. Vulcan operates three of its own Panama-max sized vessels to transport products to eager markets, in a completely vertically integrated operation.

At the Port of Brownsville, Vulcan imports about 700,000 short tons of crushed limestone annually, consumed by regional construction industries, where it is used for road and general construction industries, where it is used for road and general construction projects in support of the Rio Grande Valley’s accelerating growth.

Since it began mining operations in Calica, Vulcan has maintained a leadership role to protect both the environment and Mexico’s archeological heritage. Mining operations have responsibly protected archeological remains of the ancient Maya on Vulcan’s properties, while working to preserve and restore Mayan ruins discovered while planning excavation activities. Vulcan’s preservation efforts are focused on ruins dating back to 2100 B.C. and are performed in association with the Mexican National Institute of Archeological History.


Vulcan’s mine in Calica sits adjacent to federally protected land, seen right. Since it began mining operations on the Yucatan Peninsula, Vulcan has maintained a leadership role to protect both the environment and Mexico’s archeological heritage.

Mining operations have responsibly protected archeological remains of the ancient Maya on Vulcan’s properties, while working to preserve and restore Mayan ruins discovered while planning excavation activities.

Temporary Relocation of Port Administration Office

The Port of Brownsville administration office has moved to its temporary location at Keppel AmFELS, 20000 SH 48, Brownsville.

The administration complex at 1000 Foust Road will undergo a complete renovation and expansion expected to take about 18 months. The project includes rehabilitation of the current building, construction of a new pod featuring a new boardroom, a new parking area, and construction of a new permit office in an adjacent building.

Hours of operation at the new location will remain Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to noon and 1-5 p.m. All visitors to the temporary port office are required to show proper government-issued photo identification (i.e. driver license, passport, etc.) at the Keppel AmFELS security gate.

For the duration of the renovation, the port mailing address will be 2993 N. Indiana Avenue, Suite B, Brownsville, Texas 78526.

Overweight Permit Office Moved to Foust Road Gate

Due to renovation work being performed on the Port of Brownsville administration building the overweight permit office has temporary moved to the Foust Road entrance guard house.

Hours of operation at the new location is Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to noon, and from 1 to 4 p.m.

Additionally, the inner outbound lane of the Foust Road gate is closed to traffic, allowing pedestrian traffic safe access to purchase permits.

Parking for truck drivers acquiring permits continues at Fishprint Road, across the street from the current port administration building.

To avoid delays, drivers are urged to obtain permits online at or use the SH 550 port entrance to activate the permits.

President Obama Gives Green Light to Brownsville Ship Channel Deepening Project

BROWNSVILLE, Texas — President Barack Obama today signed into law the Water Resources and Development Act (WRDA) of 2016, authorizing the Brownsville Ship Channel deepening project, making it eligible for federal funding.

The Brazos Island Harbor Channel Improvement Project was one of 28 water infrastructure projects nationwide included in the WRDA and submitted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to Congress for approval. The project calls for the Port of Brownsville channel to be deepened to 52 feet from its current design depth of 42 feet. When complete, the Port of Brownsville will become one of the deepest ports in the Gulf of Mexico.

“This is the announcement that we were anxiously waiting for and would not have been made possible without the support from our legislative delegation in Washington, D.C., Senator John Cornyn, Senator Ted Cruz, and Congressman Filemon Vela. Their efforts were instrumental in moving this project forward. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude for their leadership and guidance,” said John Wood, Brownsville Navigation District Chairman. “The deepening of the channel strengthens the port’s infrastructure and increases our global competitiveness. It is a catalyst for greater economic opportunities for our entire Rio Grande Valley.”

In 2006, the Brownsville Navigation District began a feasibility study with the USACE to assess the deepening and widening of the channel. The proposal was approved in November 2014 by the USACE, which stated that the project would result in significant economic advantages for commercial navigation in South Texas. The only step pending in the process was congressional authorization, which was accomplished today.

Completion of the channel deepening is important in allowing existing companies at the port, like Keppel AmFELS, to further expand its services. With a depth of 52 feet, Keppel AmFELS will be able to increase its support in the construction and servicing of offshore and inland oil and gas rigs.

In addition, the port will be able to accommodate deeper draft cargo vessels carrying heavier loads, which translates to a greater economic impact per vessel for the region. It also aligns with the recent expansion of the Panama Canal, allowing newer and bigger ships crossing that stretch to call on the port for business.

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West Plains, LLC Announces Grand Re-Opening Celebration for Port of Brownsville Grain Elevator

The Port of Brownsville’s grain elevator is nearing completion of its modernization and will re-start operations in support of South Texas grain farmers soon after following its grand re-opening event at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, December 15, 2016.

The renovation and modernization of the facility began in May 2016 undertaken by West Plains LLC, a grain elevator company part of the diversified BioUrja Group of companies.

The 50-year-old grain elevator has handled millions of tons of grain passing through the port in the past, and upon completion of its modernization it will be equipped for efficient and high-speed handling of grain through all modes of transportation – truck, rail and vessel loading and unloading. The renovated facility will provide storage for nearly 3 million bushels of grain, and in addition to the indirect economic impact on the region, it will add eight full-time, year-round jobs as a result of its day to day operations.

West Plains, which operates 26 grain elevators across four states, intends to link local growers to new markets for sorghum, corn, ddgs and other crops in Mexico and internationally via ocean vessels.

“The addition of the Brownsville Port facility to the West Plains asset base will bring critical markets to the West Plains customer base and allow for strategic growth of the company,” said Mike Rowan, President of West Plains.

Amit Bhandari, Chairman and CEO of the BioUrja Group added, “We are eager to get the grain elevator at the port going again; our goal is not only to return the elevator to its heyday but we see Brownsville as a launch pad for new energy commodity opportunities in the area due to its central location and access to the various modes of transportation.”

There is quite a bit of excitement regarding the re-opening of the grain elevator.

“The agricultural industry in the Rio Grande Valley continues to have a tremendous economic impact for the region,” said John Wood, Brownsville Navigation District Chairman. “We’re pleased that the partnership between West Plains LLC, OmniTRAX Inc., and the Port of Brownsville will benefit our local growers and connect them with new markets.”

Port Director Highlights Record Year and Economic Impact At State of the Port Address

BROWNSVILLE, Texas — The Port of Brownsville expects to set tonnage and revenue records in 2016 predicts Eduardo A. Campirano, Port Director & CEO.

Campirano made the prediction before a group of 150 present Thursday at his State of the Port Address in Brownsville.

In 2015, the port handled more than 10.1 million tons of cargo, exceeding the 2014 record of 8.4 million tons, and recorded almost $20 million in revenue. Although the final numbers for 2016 are not yet available the port is on track to set new tonnage and revenue records. Campirano credits the Brownsville Navigation Board (BND) of Commissioners, customers and business partners for the port’s best performance to date.

“It’s clear that together we are stronger, and that alignment and coordinated effort results in achievements like those we anticipate as we close out 2016,” Campirano added.

Campirano also stated, “In addition, the Port of Brownsville is one of only three Texas ports that have consistently shown growth in increased vessel calls.” The other two ports are Port Lavaca and Freeport. Tonnage at the Port of Brownsville also has consistently shown incremental growth of approximately nine percent annually.

Based on that strong performance, the BND commissioners authorized a $28 million revenue bond to launch an aggressive capital improvement program for 2016. The principal project on the schedule is the construction of the new Liquid Cargo Dock 6 and improvements to Liquid Cargo Dock 3. The contract for both projects is expected to be awarded later this month with construction beginning in early 2017. Completion of the projects is expected by the third quarter of 2018 and cost approximately $25 million.

“These docks are needed and will further enhance our ability to address the growing petroleum segments at the Port of Brownsville,” noted Campirano. “These improvements are critical to the continued sustainability of the Port.”

Campirano cited the construction of Cargo Dock 16 as an example of the impact such improvements can have on the overall health of the port. Since the completion of the project in August 2015, 90 vessel calls carrying more than one million tons of cargo have moved over the dock.

Other capital improvement initiatives in 2016 include: maintenance dredging; 10 additional acres of open storage; renovation of the Foust Road entrance; installation of new water meters; and the addition of the Port Police Safe Boat. Additionally, the port’s administration building will be renovated and expanded in 2017.

In May 2016, the port celebrated its 80th anniversary with a free public street fair-like event for more than 4,000 guests. Also in May, the port announced a new lease on life for the port’s grain elevator complex in partnership with West Plains LLC. On Dec. 15, West Plains will host a ribbon cutting and tours of the rehabilitated facility along with plans to reintroduce grain into the port’s cargo matrix.

In August, the BND commissioners announced the reduction of property tax rates for the 23rd consecutive year. The port also launched Port Matters, an electronic newsletter with a circulation of more than 3,500, highlighting news about the port, its customers and partners.

Campirano also stressed the importance of the port’s public-private partnership with OmniTRAX to operate the port’s 45 miles of railroad track and the Brownsville & Rio Grande International Railway. Since 2014, OmniTRAX has operated the BRG and is assisting the port by attracting new customers through such initiatives as the GEOTRAC Industrial Hub and the OmniTRAX Incubator site.

Furthermore, as a division of the Denver-based Broe Group, OmniTRAX brings real development strength to attract new industries and companies to the Valley. OmniTRAX is projecting 38,800 railcar moves at the Port of Brownsville for 2016.

In September, the National Foreign Trade Zones Board announced that FTZ No. 62—the port’s FTZ—ranks second in the nation for the value of exports moving through the zone. “Our customers exported $3.2 billion worth of goods in 2015,” proclaimed Campirano. “This represents the fourth straight year that we’ve ranked in the top three nationally.”

Also in September, the port’s economic impacts were released indicating the Port of Brownsville is responsible for more than 44,000 jobs and $3 billion in annual state economic activity, per a study commissioned by the port. The study reports nearly 8,000 Rio Grande Valley workers are directly employed by activities of the port.

Finally, in October, the port’s financial reporting was honored by the Government Finance Officers Association for excellence in financial reporting.

“We’re making progress in moving this port in the right direction as a major economic force and center for domestic and international trade in the region and in Texas,” said Campirano in closing.


GFOA Recognizes Port of Brownsville for Excellence in Financial Reporting

BROWNSVILLE, Texas—For the fifth consecutive year, the Brownsville Navigation District received the highest form of recognition for governmental accounting and financial reporting for its 2015 comprehensive annual financial report (CAFR).

The Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) presented the award to Stephen B. Fitzgibbons, Port of Brownsville finance director.

“The Brownsville Navigation District commissioners and staff are dedicated to full financial transparency,” said BND Chairman John Wood. “On behalf of the board of commissioners, I commend the BND financial team on their commitment to successfully increasing the quality of our annual financial reporting.”

“I am fortunate to work alongside a team of professionals committed to the highest financial standards in accuracy, clarity and transparency,” Fitzgibbons said.

Long Chilton LLP, a registered public accounting firm, audited all financial statements related to the CAFR.

The GFOA established the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting Program (CAFR Program) in 1945 to encourage and assist state and local governments to go beyond the minimum requirements of generally accepted accounting principles to prepare comprehensive annual financial reports that evidence the spirit of transparency and full disclosure and then to recognize individual governments that succeed in achieving that goal.


Port Matters October 2016 issue

The October 2016 issue of Port Matters is available HERE.

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