Coast Guard clears Texas waterways to re-open

03 September 2008 15:54  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--Ship movement in and around Houston, Texas was returning to normal on Wednesday after the US Coast Guard approved the re-opening of waterways.

The Coast Guard on Tuesday lifted restrictions in place for Hurricane Gustav that closed the Houston Ship Channel, the ports of Freeport, Galveston and Texas City, and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.

However, the re-openings still contained vessel size restrictions for most of the waterways.

Those restrictions include opening the Houston Ship Channel and Port of Galveston to inbound and outbound traffic for ships drafting less than 38 feet (11.6 meters).

Also, the Port of Texas City was opened to ship traffic only for vessels drafting less than 35 feet.

The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway in Texas has been opened only for barge traffic, the Coast Guard said. And Port Freeport is open to unrestricted ship movement.

More detailed surveys by the Army Corps of Engineers will be made over the next few days to decide on further lifting of the restrictions, said Steve Nerheim, Vessel Traffic Coordinator at Coast Guard Sector Houston-Galveston.

Steve Holcombe, spokesman for Kirby Inland Marine in Houston, one of the nation's largest barge operators, said the company was told the rest of the Intracoastal in Louisiana would be re-opened Wednesday.

Holcombe said that, other than a few windows that were blown out on Kirby towboats in Morgan City and Houma, Louisiana, the company suffered little damage on any of its vessels from Hurricane Gustav.

"We very rarely lose any equipment due to a hurricane," Holcombe said. "We always get it moved to a safe zone."


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By: Lane Kelley
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