Crews broke ground on Aug. 16 on a new empty-container yard at the Port of Houston, the United States’ largest port for foreign, waterborne tonnage. The project is being funded as part of a public-private partnership.

Teams are developing the new facility at the port’s Bayport Container Terminal, explains Stephen Gilbreath, vice president and business group director of infrastructure water conveyance with Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam Inc., which is acting as civil engineer on the project.

Terminal Link Texas (TLT) is building the 25-acre empty-container yard, according to the port.

“This terminal provides support to the intermodal facility to service and store containers utilized to import and export cargo through the Port of Houston,” adds Gilbreath.

Upon completion in July 2018, the project will increase overall stacking capacity at the facility by as much as 80% while allowing for increased container-freight station activities and improved maintenance-and-repair operations.

Under the lease agreement signed between TLT and the Port of Houston, TLT will build and use the 25-acre empty-container yard and subsequently return to the port 14 existing acres, upon which it currently operates.

The new container yard is also a part of the master plan for Bayport, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.

When fully developed, the Bayport Container Terminal will have a total of seven container berths, with a capacity to handle 2.3 million TEUs across 376 acres of container yard, as well as a 123-acre intermodal facility, according to the port.

Container volumes at the Port of Houston were up by 14% in the first half of 2017 compared to the same period last year, with expectations for that growth to continue, according to the port.

The Port of Houston owns and operates both Bayport and Barbours Cut Container terminals, which, together, handle nearly 70% of all the container-cargo business along the Gulf Coast.