HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — A Texas legislative committee has recommended the state invest $1.75 billion in the state’s shipping channels and ports.

This development has raised optimism at the Port of Harlingen, who hopes to benefit from some of the state’s resources to further develop its facility, officials said Wednesday.

“The Port of Harlingen is optimistic for the possibility of state funding appropriated for Texas ports in the 88th Legislature after The House Committee on Transportation released their interim report,” port officials said.

The report recommended $750 million be provided for ports to deepen and widen ship channels and $1 billion be allocated for other projects involving ports.

Twice this fall, the House Transportation Committee has heard testimony from Texas ports, including the Port of Harlingen, officials said.

“Historically, the state of Texas has not supported the seaports monetarily and it’s unfortunate. Especially when seaports are responsible for 25 percent of the state’s GDP,” Port Director Walker Smith said. “As important and impactful on our economy as ports are, funding from the State of Texas continues to be virtually nonexistent. But, what the Transportation Committee is doing gives us hope.”

In 2021, the Port of Harlingen brought in more than 3 million tons of goods through its facilities.

“We have continued to grow exponentially every year and we do not foresee that slowing down,” Smith said. This is a great thing for the community and the state of Texas but keeping up with maintenance and the ability to handle such growth without funding leaves so much on the table and our port and every other port, looking to where they will find the dollars to fill the gaps for these needs.”

Texas ports have been fully self-funded and rely on revenue and local taxing districts for funding.

However, Louisiana, Georgia, California, Alabama and Florida fund port improvement projects at the state level.

The Port of Harlingen currently has about $60 million in projects for immediate infrastructure needs and expansion, including widening the turning basin expansion and constructing bulk heads, main dock rehabilitation, rail expansion, and building moorings and fleeting areas, officials said Wednesday.

The 88th Texas Legislature convenes at noon Jan. 10.