Galveston’s cruise business is growing and the port is adding a third cruise terminal.
“More ships generates hundreds of jobs, local spending and more sales tax revenue for the city,” said Rodger Rees, Port Director and CEO (pictured).
“A growing cruise business also generates more revenue for our self-sustaining port. As a city-owned entity with no taxing authority, we reinvest our revenues to maintain ageing port infrastructure and to build new infrastructure to expand our cruise and cargo businesses,” he explained.
He continued; “Growth also can bring challenges. Since the public-private partnership with Royal Caribbean Group was finalised, the port has been making plans and improvements to manage the additional traffic that growth will bring.”
Galveston Island is a major tourist destination, attracting more than 7 mill visitors a year. Cruise passengers make up a fraction of those visitors – about 1 mill per year.
Rees said that the port had several traffic management tools to reduce the impact cruise-related traffic has on the community and to make it easier and faster for cruise passengers to park and board.
He gave a summary of some of the traffic management tools to be introduced, ranging from new technologies to major infrastructure improvements:
1. expanded interior roadway to move some port-related traffic off Harborside Drive, especially around downtown
2. real-time traffic condition and routing updates through navigation apps, like Waze
3. more wayfinding signage for cruise passengers
4. advance traffic notifications to Port of Galveston parking reservation holders
5. automated port cruise parking entrance and exit with license plate readers.
The port’s 20-year Strategic Master Plan, adopted by the Galveston Wharves Board of Trustees in 2019, maps out an interior roadway through much of the port’s 483 acre property on Galveston Island.
After extensive studies, the port is enhancing and extending its Old Port Industrial and Wharf roads based on current and future traffic needs.
This project has three phases to serve the West Port Cargo Complex, cruise operations in the central port, and the east port commercial, cargo and Cruise Terminal 10 operations. The total estimated cost of $20 mill will be funded by port revenues and grants, Rees said.
All customers who park at Cruise Terminal 10 will benefit from expedited entrance and exit at parking facilities with new license plate recognition technology. Also, the terminal’s extensive internal roadway system has the capacity for hundreds of cars, which will take traffic off Harborside.
Through a partnership with Waze, real-time data collected from Waze users, as well as port construction and road closure updates will help those users – both island residents and cruise passengers – plan the most efficient routes.