The Port Commission of the Port of Houston Authority approved nearly $2 million for maintenance dredging of the Authority’s berths at its terminals along the Houston Ship Channel and a $68,000 Texas Transportation Institute study to evaluate the economic impacts of the lack of dredging at its regular June 29 meeting.

Port authority Chief Executive Officer Alec Dreyer delivered a financial report on performance for the first five months of the year, noting that the port authority has returned to a growth mode across all its major business lines.

“Total port authority ship arrivals were up 2 percent in May over last year,” he said. “The turning basin saw an increase in ships of nearly 12 percent. While year-to-date port authority ship arrivals are essentially flat between years, I expect this to turn to the positive in June and to show growth for the balance of the year.

“Barge traffic continues to evidence strong improvement with movements increasing over 19 percent for the month and nearly the same sort of increase for May year to date.”

Loaded container TEUs were up 9 percent for May.

Finally, while steel tonnage is still down over a million tons for the first five months of this year versus last year, steel continues to evidence a slow and methodical recovery from last year, he said. In May, port authority steel tonnage grew over April’s performance and was up 37 percent over May of 2009.