HARLINGEN — Despite the disruption caused by COVID-19 and related shutdowns and lockdowns, the Port of Harlingen managed significant growth in commodities, grant funding, navigability, staffing, strategic and master planning as well as growing its physical footprint, a review of 2020 says.

“Although there was, and still is, so much uncertainty, the Port of Harlingen showed the stability of the economy and industry this past year,” Port Director Walker Smith said. “Industry kept moving and it was a big year for us. The Port of Harlingen is growing in so many ways and that means so is the region.”

The port boosted its overall tonnage of commodities shipped by barge, rail and truck by 15 percent over the previous year, totaling 2.3 million tons. The biggest increases were in concrete, petroleum, agriculture solutions and concrete materials, port officials said.

“Petroleum continues to be a big factor in our growth,” Smith said. “As the demand grows in our region and across the border, we are fortunate to be able to benefit from the need to transport it in and out of our port. Both Titan Marine Fuel and Key Petrol are in the process of expanding their facilities here to meet the market need.”

Smith was at least partly referring to the boost the port has received by a sharp increase in demand for diesel, which Mexico truckers load at the port and transport across the border.

The port also obtained precious U.S. Army Corps of Engineers funding to dredge the Arroyo Colorado to a depth of 14 feet and 16 feet in the port’s turning basin. Other grants included $5.3 million in funding from TxDOT to upgrade and expand facilities.

The port also completed a truck queuing area and rebuilt and resurfaced roads thanks to a TxDOT grant.

“Our partnerships with our state and federal organizations and leaders are just as essential to us as with our tenants and businesses,” said Alan Johnson, chairman of the port board. “Both the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and TxDOT have provided us great opportunities to expand our capabilities and we look forward to what these partnerships bring in the next year.”

Port officials say the facility has created an impact of $1 billion in economic activity in Texas and $17 million in local and state tax revenue through the generation of more than 4,600 jobs through organizations that support port services, the use of local goods and services, business generation and marine cargo activity associated with the port.

rkelley@valleystar.com