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The city of Aransas Pass with a population of 6,000 is the distributing center for the tributary areas of 100 square miles and is an important base for the seafood industry.
Facilities for processing seafoods include 10 fish and shrimp houses and a canning factory with a daily capacity of 125,000 pounds of shrimp and 250 barrels of oysters.
The city is widely patronized as a resort for sport fishing.
The surrounding area is devoted chiefly to the production of oil and the growing of cotton, corn, sorghums, and vegetables, and the raising of livestock.
Local interests request provision of an alternate route for the main 12- by 125-foot Intracoastal Waterway channel from Aransas Bay to Corpus Christi Bay, and suggest 3 possible locations; provision of a turning basin 12 feet deep, 600 feet wide, and 2,200 feet long adjacent to the proposed alternate channel in front of the city of Aransas Pass; and enlargement of the tributary channel from the Intracoastal Waterway at Port Aransas to the city of Aransas Pass to dimensions of 12 by 125 feet.
They claim that an alternate route for the main channel would shorten the route of the waterway, eliminate the hazardous section at Aransas Pass Inlet, and divert barge traffic from the eastern part of the Aransas-Corpus Christi ship channel; a larger turning basin would provide area needed to accommodate the larger boats and aid in commercial development of the harbor; and enlargement of the tributary channel would permit the larger fishing boats to operate from the city of Aransas Pass and thereby increase the quantity of fish brought to the harbor, and provide an adequate waterway for boats to reach the harbor of refuge during storms.
The city points out that local interests have spent $625,000 in channel improvements, are now spending $306,000 for construction of a north harbor, and are contemplating spending $125,000 on construction of a south harbor. A total of $1,056,000.
The Board finds that the alternate route requested would shorten the distance for through traffic between Aransas and Corpus Christi Bays by 3.3 miles and save considerable travel time.
The average speed for tow nowadays is about 5.5 miles per hour, so that a saving of 3.3 miles would also be a considerable saving in operating costs.
The Board also finds that the increased depth of from 9 feet to 12 feet for the tributary channel would permit free and easy navigation for the larger fishing boats operating in the Gulf of Mexico.
Accordingly, the Board recommends modification of the existing project for the Intracoastal Waterway to provide: (1) Relocation of the main channel along the northwest shore of Redfish Bay between Aransas Bay and Corpus Christi Bay, with a depth of 12 feet, width of 125 feet, and length of about 17.2 miles, with such modifications as in the opinion of the Secretary of War and the Chief of Engineers may be deemed advisable; (2) for no further maintenance of the present route between mile 525.9 and its junction with the deep-water channel at mile 537.7 after completion of the new route; and (3) a depth of 12 feet in the tributary channel from Port Aransas Pass, and extension of the turning basin to a length of 2,200 feet at the same depth.
The normal conditions of local cooperation apply; that is, local interests have to furnish free of cost to the United States all lands, easements, and rights-of-way necessary for construction of the project, for subsequent maintenance as and when required; hold and save the United States free from damages due to the construction works; and operate and maintain the railroad drawbridge across the proposed channel, in lieu of the existing drawbridge across the Morris and Cummings Cut, in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Secretary of War.
Cost of the United States for new work; For relocation of main channel, $976,000; for tributary channel, $119,000. Annual cost of maintenance in addition to that now authorized; for relocation of main channel, $15,000; for tributary channel, $1,000. Amortization costs : for relocation of main channel, $47,400; for tributary channel, $4,600. Total annual carrying charges : for relocation of main channel, $62,400; for tributary channel, $5,600.
The annual evaluated beenfits to accrue from the relocation of the main channel due to shortening of distance and saving of time is estimated at $79,230 of which $44,550 would accrue to barge traffic, $930 to other commercial traffic, and $33,750 to fishing boats.
The ratio of costs to benefits is 1 to 1.29.
The project was sent to the Governor of Texas in accordance with existing law, and he was in favor thereof.
It has not yet gone to the Bureau of the Budget.
Colonel FERINGA. The cost for the relocation of the main channel was $976,000, and for the tributary channel that goes right to Aransas Pass it was $119,000.
Congressman Lyle was here on that yesterday and again this morning, and he could not be here this evening.
I told him that he could just submit a statement in writing, which he has done. That will go in the record.
Mr. LARCADE. I might make an observation, too, that an unsual feature about this hearing this time is the absence of Colonel Miller, your good friend. Because whenever there was a Texas project that was under consideration by this committee, he was always on hand; but unfortunately he has met with an accident. I am sure that we all hope Colonel Miller will soon be well and out again.
Colonel FERINGA. He was ably represented by his son this morning. The CHAIRMAN. We have his statement here.
STATEMENT OF HON. JOHN E. LYLE, JR., A MEMBER OF CONGRESS FROM THE STATE
Mr. Chairman and gentleman of the committee, I desire to manifest the unanimous and enthusiastic interest of the people of my district and my own personal interest in that part of your present considerations dealing with the modification of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway in the vicinity of the town of Aransas Pass, Tex.
In the vicinity of the town of Aransas Pass, the Intracoastal Waterway extends generally across open waters of Aransas Bay to the federally improved deepwater inlet of Aransas Pass where it connects with and utilizes a deep-water channel through Corpus Christi Bay to Corpus Christi, Tex. My interest and that of my people is to have provided for in the rivers and harbors bill a provision for an alternate route for the main 12- by 125-foot Intracoastal Waterway channel from Aransas Bay to Corpus Christi Bay, and suggest three possible locations; provision of a turning basin 12 feet deep, 600 feet wide, and 2,200 feet long adjacent to the proposed alternate channel in front of the city of Aransas Pass; and enlargement of the tributary channel from the Intracoastal Waterway at Port Aransas to the city of Aransas Pass to dimensions of 12 by 125 feet. Such alternate route would not only shorten the waterway but would eliminate the hazards in the vicinity of the Aransas Pass inlet and would provide a larger turning basin.
My people have offered to furnish rights-of-way and soil-disposal areas and to hold the United States Government free from damage resulting from the work. Local interests have spent $625,000 in the channel improvements and are spending, have spent, and contemplate spending an additional $430,000 or more for construction of harbors.
The Board of Engineers for Rivers and Harbors has recommended that these improvements be made, and such recommendations have been reviewed and further passed upon by Lieutenant General Wheeler, Chief of Engineers, who has concurred in general in the conclusions of the Board and has recommended modification of the existing project for the Intracoastal Waterway to provide for
(1) Relocation of the main channel along the northwest shore of Redfish Bay between Aransas Bay and Corpus Christi Bay, with a depth of 12 feet, width of 125 feet, and length of about 17.2 miles, generally in accordance with the plans of the district engineer with such modifications as in the opinion of the Secretary of War and the Chief of Engineers may be deemed advisable, at an estimated first cost to the United States of $976,000 and annual maintenance of $15,000 in addition to that now required; (2) no further maintenance of the present route between mile 525.9 and its junction with the deep-water channel at mile 537.7 after completion of the new route; and (3) a depth of 12 feet in the tributary channel from Port Aransas to and including the turning basin at the city of Aransas Pass, and extension of the turning basin to a length of 2,200 feet at the same depth, generally in accordance with the plans of the district engineer and as shown on the accompanying drawings, at an estimated first cost to the United States of $119,000 and annual maintenance of $1,000 in addition to that now required; all subject to the provisions that local interests give assurances satisfactory to the Secretary of War that they will (a) furnish free of cost to the United States all lands, easements, and rights-of-way necessary for construction of the project and for subsequent maintenance as and when required; (b) hold and save the United States free from damages due to the construction works ; and (c) operate and maintain the railroad drawbridge across the Morris and Cummings Cut, in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Secretary of War.
I am sure that you need no further recommendation in this matter, but I desire to say to you that the economy of my district would be vitally affected by a favorable committee consideration.
Our contribution to the Nation's welfare would be considerably extended, and our own interest and welfare would be enhanced. I most sincerely solicit your favorable consideration,
BRAZOS ISLAND HARBOR, TEX.
This next one is Brazos Island ?
Mr. Chairman, the report on Brazos Island Harbor, Tex., and Gulf Intracoastal Waterway in the vicinity of Port Isabel, Tex., is in response to a resolution adopted on February 28, 1945, by the Rivers and Harbors Committee.
Brazos Island Harbor includes all of the navigation improvements at and extending westward of Brazos Santiago Pass, a natural opening in the Texas coastal sand barrier separating Laguna Madre from the Gulf of Mexico, 9 miles north of the mouth of the Rio Grande and 125 miles south of Aransas Pass.
Commerce of Brazos Island Harbor for the years 1935 to 1944, inclusive, fluctuated between a low of 92,400 tons in 1935 to a high of 546,800 tons in 1939, and averaged 346,100 tons for the period. The commerce in 1944 was 402,900 tons, which was carried in 114 one-way trips of steamers and motor vessels and 167 one-way trips of barges and tubs.
Port Isabel with a population of 1,440 is an important point for refining and shipping of petroleum products, and has a rapidly expanding commercial fishing industry.
Other industries include an oil refinery with a maximum daily capacity of 7,500 barrels of crude oil, and a tank storage capacity of 800,000 barrels at the port.
Thirteen commercial fishing companies engage in processing seafood, and nearly 300 fishing boats operate out of the town.
Port Isabel is served by one railroad, paved highways, and oil pipe lines from 11 of the 23 producing oil fields in the area.
Local interests request an additional channel 32 feet deep to connect the Port Isabel and Brownsville Channels, a new channel 1/2 mile northeast of the turning basin to connect the Intracoastal Waterway with existing shallow-draft channel, enlargement of the shallow-draft channel west of the connecting channel to dimensions of 12 by 125 feet, enlargement of the yacht basin which we do not recommend, west. of Port Isabel, and provision of an entrance channel 12 by 125 feet extending generally north from the yacht basin to the Intracoastal Waterway, which we also do not recommend.
They claim that the deep-draft channel is justified in the interest of safety and convenience of established navigation, that closing of shallow-draft channel would prevent excessive currents and silting in the turning basin.
The Board recommends modification of the existing project for Brazos Island Harbor, Tex., to provide for an additional connecting channel 150 feet wide and 32 feet deep between the Port Isabel channel and the Brownsville channel, and for filling a portion of the shallow-draft channel adjacent to the Port Isabel turning basin.
That is for the purpose of preventing silt being washed into that turning basin, which has been detrimental in the past, and construction of a channel to connect the shallow-draft channel with authorized Intracoastal Waterway and enlargement of the shallow-draft channel west of this connection, all to a depth of 12 feet and width of 125 feet on the bottom.
The additional deep-water connecting channel between the Port Isabel and Brownsville channels would provide a needed safe and convenient route for vessel traffic between the two channels, and modification of the shallow-draft channel at Port Isabel would permit full development of the turning basin and accommodate the requirements of the fleet of small craft.
The cost to the United States for new work would be $170,000. The annual cost of maintenance would be $5,000. The interest and amortization would be $6,900. The total annual carrying charges would be $11,900.
Construction of the proposed connecting channel is considered neces. sary for the safety and conenience of established and prospective navi. gation.
Enlargement of the shallow-draft channel would be very beneficial to the sea-food industry at Port Isabel, and it is considered that the improvements would result in a general betterment of navigation condi.. tions sufficient to justify enlargement of the channels by the United States.
The project has gone to the Governor of Texas. He is in favor thereof. We have not yet had time to hear from the Bureau of the Budget. I cannot imagine their having any objection thereto.
That concludes what we had to offer for today. We have other projects if you want to take them, but this finishes the Texas projects.
The CHAIRMAN. That finishes Texas?
The CHAIRMAN. Well, is there anything that we could take up that is set for some other day, that is easy?
Colonel FERINGA. There is a heavy schedule for tomorrow, and there are one or two very small projects scheduled for tomorrow that you might want to consider now.
Let us take Middle River and Dark Head Creek, Md.
MIDDLE RIVER AND DARK HEAD CREEK, MD.
Middle River and Dark Head Creek, Judge, is one of these projects which were constructed during the war, and we would like now to get authority to maintain it. It was one of these projects that had to be constructed in connection with a war plant.
We have no authority to maintain the extension, which is of comparatively small cost, and we believe that should be granted.
The CHAIRMAN. The purpose, then, is for maintenance ?
Colonel FERINGA. For maintenance only, of a project that has been provided as a war measure.
The CHAIRMAN. And it has been completed ?
Mr. Chairman, Middle River aid Dark Head Creek which joins it at a point 3 miles above the mouth is an estuary on the west side of Chesapeake Bay 8 miles above the mouth of the Patapsco River in the Baltimore area.
An existing project authorized by the National Defense River and Harbor Act approved October 17, 1940, and as contained in House Document 556, Seventy-sixth Congress, third session, provides for a channel 10 feet deep and 150 feet wide from that depth in Chesapeake Bay through Middle River to the head of Dark Head
Creek. T'he project, which was endorsed by the Navy Department, serves the Glenn L. Martin plant in the receipt of raw materials and the delivery of finished planes.
It subsequently developed that an enlarged project consisting of a channel 10 feet by 200 feet together with an anchorage basin about 400 feet by 2,000 feet and 10 feet deep located at the head of the improvement was necessary to meet national defense needs.
The improvement was completed in 1942. Authority is presently lacking to permit maintenance of the enlarged channel together with the anchorage basin as a regular river and harbor function of the Corps of Engineers. The annual maintenance cost of the enlarged project is $3,500 or $1,500 annually in addition to that now authorized.