Gulf Intracoastal Waterway
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Gulf Intracoastal Waterway

The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway in Texas is a vital part of the state’s maritime transportation system that enhances Texas’ economic competitiveness and provides safety and environmental benefits to the region. The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway Report to the 87th Texas Legislature provides more information about the impact of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway on Texas and makes recommendations for legislative action.

In 2020, 75 million tons of goods were moved on this portion of the waterway, which equates to at least three million truckloads. Moving goods by barge rather than truck reduces congestion and wear-and-tear on coastal highways, produces fewer greenhouse gasses and other emissions, has a lower risk of crashes and fatalities, and moves hazardous cargo away from highly populated areas.

In June 2016, after several years of collaboration with TxDOT, the U.S. Maritime Administration designated the GIWW-T as Marine Highway 69. This designation allows TxDOT and Texas ports to apply for America’s Marine Highway Program grant funding for projects that increase waterborne transportation along the corridor. Prior to the M-69 designation, the GIWW-T was part of the larger M-10 corridor, which encompasses the entire length of the GIWW from Florida to Brownsville. The GIWW-T is now dually designated which makes it eligible for federal grant funding for both M-69 specific projects as well as M-10 projects that address overarching challenges along the entire GIWW.

Texas is the designated non-federal sponsor for the GIWW-T. TxDOT acts on behalf of the State to fulfill its responsibilities in this role, which include acquiring land, easements, or right-of-way for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Galveston District) to use as dredged material placement areas.

As the federal sponsor, USACE is responsible for the planning and execution of all construction, maintenance, and major rehabilitation on the GIWW to ensure that the waterway remains open for commerce. USACE has undertaken several measures to communicate its efforts and activities to stakeholders. These include:

  • Operations Dashboard: This web application provides location-aware data visualization and analytics for a real-time operational view of navigation contracts, draft restrictions, and hydrographic survey information.
  • Annual Dredging Meeting: The Galveston District of the USACE hosts an annual meeting in which the district’s dredging program and funding needs are presented.
  • Stakeholder Partnering Forum: The Galveston District of the USACE conducts semi-annual Stakeholder Partnering Forums with non-federal sponsors, customers, and agency partners to collaborate on best practices regarding programs ranging from ecosystem restoration to flood risk management, maintaining and improving Texas coastal navigation systems, and regulatory oversight of U.S. waters at its Galveston headquarters.