Opened in 1936, the deepwater Port of Brownsville handles a variety of bulk cargoes that include ores, fuel oil, and grains. It is also home base for a large shrimping fleet. The Brownsville Navigation District owns the waterfront facilities on the Brownsville Ship Channel, the main harbor, and the fishing harbor. All deepwater facilities in the main harbor are public facilities. Over four million tons of waterborne cargo passed through the public terminals at the Port of Brownsville in 2005.
Cargo-handling facilities include 10 deep-sea dry docks, four deep-sea liquid cargo docks, two liquid cargo barge docks, and one dry cargo barge dock. The port contains 444 thousand square feet of transit shed space and 450 thousand square feet of dockside aprons, all served by railroad.
The Port of Brownsville’s main harbor contains almost five miles of improved frontage. The turning basin is 3500 feet long and varies from 400 to 1200 feet in width. It contains a combined total of over 5000 feet of docks. The turning basin extension contains oil docks, a bulk cargo dock (serving a grain elevator), a liquid cargo dock, and an express dock totaling 5400 feet long with a 500-foot bottom width. The turning basin is encompassed by a wide range of marine-related businesses, including ship repair and salvage yards.
The Port of Brownsville’s fishing harbor, located four miles east of the turning basin, has a protected entrance. The basin is 2100 by 1600 feet and contains two 300- by 1200-foot peninsulas in the middle. The fishing harbor offers 10 feet of dock space with a depth of 14 feet.
The Entrance Channel to the Port of Brownsville is protected by two rock jetties, each over 5000 feet long. The channel is unobstructed and virtually straight, facilitating easy navigation.
The Port of Brownsville offers five different transportation modes that include ocean vessels, truck and rail service, barge service, and air service. It offers over 33 miles of railroad and rail sidings that serve warehouses, industries, and all port docks. Three tenant public grain storage/elevator companies serve the Port of Brownsville, all of which can load and unload both barges and ships. The largest elevator has capacity for more than 3 million bushels, and adjacent bulk facilities offer flat storage for dry bulk commodities.
The port operates eight transit sheds with a total of over 400 thousand square feet of space. All buildings are adjacent to vessel berths and are equipped with rail tracks. The port offers another 1.2 million square feet of public warehousing near the docks. In addition, the Port of Brownsville offers over 240 thousand square feet of deep-draft open dock and more than 200 thousand square feet of shallow-draft open docks. Away from the docks are over 80 acres of open surface storage space.
Major dry bulk cargoes passing through the Port of Brownsville include ores, fertilizers, petroleum, grain, sulfur, minerals, ores, aluminum, and grains. Terminal facilities at the Port of Brownsville handle and store a variety of liquid bulk cargoes. Rail- and truck-loading racks facilitate the safe and efficient transfer of petroleum and chemicals.
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