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.

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Commissioners authorized a $410,000 contract with Xirrus Inc. of Thousand Oaks, Calif., for wireless network hardware, software, hardware support and software support for Barbours Cut Container Terminal for five years. Commissioners also authorized a $600,000 increase to the capital budget and payment of up to that amount to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for dredging the port authority’s Sims Bayou facility as well as a payment of up to $1.375 million to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for dredging PHA’s Woodhouse and the grain elevator facilities.

Additionally, an $872,013 contract to Garland-based Bearcom, Inc. was approved to purchase land mobile radio equipment. This equipment will be deployed across the port authority’s facilities as part of its interoperability initiative with other law enforcement agencies in the area.

A $68,000 professional services contract to Texas A&M University’s Texas Transportation Institute was amended to provide data analysis and evaluate the economic impacts of effects of lack of dredging the Houston Ship Channel.

Port Authority statistical update: total port authority ship arrivals were up 2% in May over last year. The turning basin saw an increase in ships of nearly 12%. Barge traffic increased more than 19% for the month and nearly the same sort of increase for May year to date. Loaded container TEUs were up 9% for May. Steel tonnage is still down more than a million tons for the first five months of this year versus last year. In May, port authority steel tonnage grew over April’s performance and was up 37% over May of 2009.