Officials of Port Freeport are encouraged by recent meetings with Ted Houghton, the newest member of the Texas Transportation Commission, and are looking forward to working with him in advancing key highway and railway enhancements.

‘We are very impressed with Commissioner Houghton’s commitment to taking the time and effort to understand these critical issues and his sincere interest in working with us in enhancing both road and rail capabilities,’ said Port Freeport Executive Director A.J. ‘Pete’ Reixach, Jr.

Port Freeport officials joined other leaders of The Economic Development Alliance for Brazoria County, including Brazoria County Judge John Willy and representatives of chemical industry firms, in hosting Houghton on Dec. 7 for a breakfast presentation and facilities tour.

Houghton, an El Paso financial services professional who was named to the state commission in December 2003, was advised that local matching funds totaling $100 million are available for partnership on crucial transportation projects. Half those funds have been secured through passage of a November bond referendum, while the other half is coming from Brazoria County, cities in the county and Port Freeport.

‘Commissioner Houghton certainly has a clear understanding of just how important international ports, including Port Freeport, are to our state and our nation,’ said Port Freeport Managing Director Phyllis Saathoff, who noted that Port Freeport ranks 12th among US ports in international cargo throughput. ‘Just as essentially, he recognizes how vital seamless intermodal transportation is in the movement of goods as well as people.’

The support of Houghton and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is being sought for projects including:

—Interstate 69, to be developed under the Trans-Texas Corridor master plan as a major new north-south, limited-access highway;

—Widening to four lanes from two lanes of state Highway 36, for which the 59-mile portion from Interstate 10 southeast to West Columbia already is in the TxDOT Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) but for which the 26-mile portion between West Columbia and Freeport is not yet included although it is vital for hurricane evacuations in addition to regular passenger and freight vehicle movements;

  • Improvements to state Highway 288, the main direct north-south route between Freeport and Houston; and
  • Enhancements to rail capabilities in Brazoria County, including replacement of a World War II-era rail bridge over the old Brazos River channel in downtown Freeport that is insufficient to serve rapidly increasing rail cargo volumes.

Port Freeport officials continued their interface with Houghton on Thursday (Dec. 8) at an I-69 Alliance luncheon in Houston at which Gov. Rick Perry was featured speaker.