Port Arthur Project
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineer's (USACE) objective of the Port Arthur project is to reduce risk from coastal storm surge and flood damage for residents and businesses within coastal hazard zones in Jefferson County.
This project, at its completion, will help Jefferson County be more resilient to future storm and flood events over the next 50 years. Floodwalls and gate structures are being designed and constructed to endure sea level rise over the next 100 years. While the improved levee system will help further reduce risk of coastal storm surge flooding to its design elevation, no levee or floodwall fully eliminates flood risk.
Specific features authorized for design and construction as part of the Port Arthur Project include:
- The raising of approximately 13.25 miles of existing earthen levees
- The addition or reconstruction of approximately 5 miles of floodwall and associated tie-in structures
- The construction of approximately 2.2 miles of new earthen levee in the Port Neches area
- The construction of fronting protection at 10 pumping stations along the existing levee system
- The replacement of 21 road/railroad closure structures
- Erosion protection improvements (stone-armoring) at multiple locations
The Port Arthur Hurricane Flood Protection Project (HFPP) is a federally authorized, USACE constructed, and non-federally (locally) operated and maintained project. The current system provides risk reduction to approximately 65 square miles from hurricane surge tides up to 14 feet. The Port Arthur system provides flood risk reduction to an area with large residential communities and major industrial areas with significant infrastructure investment. The area includes the cities of Port Arthur, Groves, and Port Acres, and adjacent major industrial developments. Port Arthur is a nationally important petroleum processing center and deep water port (Ranked #17 among U.S. ports in 2018 tonnage). It's home to the Motiva refinery, the largest in the country, with a production capacity of 603,000 barrels per day. Other large refineries include Valero, Chevron, and Total. Together the large refineries comprise 15-20% of the land area within the levee boundary.
The Project was authorized by the Flood Control Act of October 23, 1962, Public Law 87-874, substantially in accordance with House Document No. 505, 87th Congress, 2nd Session. Construction of the system occurred over the period of 1966 through 1983 the system was designed to provide protection from a hurricane surge of 14 feet above mean sea level.
The existing Port Arthur HFPP levee system is located in Southeast Texas, approximately 12 miles from the Gulf of Mexico, on the west side of Lake Sabine. The project area is bound by Neches River to the Northeast, the Sabine-Neches Deep Draft Channel to the Southeast, and Taylor’s Bayou and Rodair Gully to the West.
The system consists of 27.8 miles of earthen levee embankment, 6.6 miles of floodwalls, 34 drainage or intake structures, 26 closure structures, and constructed wave barrier features. The system also includes thirteen pump stations, eight of which were present prior to the construction of the levee system. The pre-existing levee system was modified and incorporated into the federally authorized levee system.
Jefferson County Drainage District No.7 (DD7) signed on as the local non-federal sponsor by a resolution on January 21, 1963 and reaffirmed by another resolution on December 21, 1964. DD7 remains the local sponsor and is responsible for Operations and Maintenance (O&M). In November 2019, Galveston District and the DD7 signed a project partnership agreement for construction of the Port Arthur Project which included a cost shared 65/35 between the federal government and the non-federal sponsor respectively.
USACE is currently evaluating the existing levee system in Port Arthur and it's vicinity and is analyzing the specific repair and replacement needs. With the recent developments in technology, USACE is utilizing advanced modelling capabilities to model severe storm combinations to provide an increased level of protection over the next 50 years.
Project Status & Schedule
The project area is broken out into 6 separate contracts. Port Arthur Contract 1 is under construction and is expected to completed in September 2021.
For the majority of the project, USACE is in the early stages of Pre-construction Engineering and Design (PED) phase. The project team expects to compete PED by the end of 2023.
The final alignment, based on the existing alignment with some minor additions to the new levees, floodwalls, and gates has not been finalized yet. While there are preliminary alignments drawn on a map to indicate where the work may be constructed the exact location of future levees, floodwalls, gates is still in the design phase and will be communicated as the project progresses.
During the PED phase, the project team is taking into consideration many factors such as engineering best practices, schedule, funding, impacts to residents and business owners, and environmental impacts.
USACE has been working with DD7 to conduct several investigations and surveys to inform the project design. This includes gathering important data on the ground in Jefferson County relating to.
- Geotechnical Investigations
- Topography Surveys
- Storm Surge Modeling
- Wave and Wake Modeling
- Environmental Surveys