"We had been operating our Barbour's Cut facility at 150% ofcapacity," Houston port chairman James T. Edmonds says. "We thoughtwhen we opened Bayport it would solve the problem, but less thanhalf a year later, Barbour's Cut is back at more than 100% ofcapacity. We need more room."

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According to Edmonds, container shipping at the port has beengrowing at 12% to 13% annually, with no slowing in sight. "We reada lot of literature that predicts huge growth in global containershipping," he says. "We probably can't build fast enough to keepup. It looks like we'll have to start a third wharf when this one'sdone."

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Studies conducted by the Texas Transportation Institute at TexasA&M University in College Station predict a continued worldwidecontainer growth rate of 7.2% through 2010. The study estimatesannual growth rates as high as 13% along the Gulf of Mexico.

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According to port sources, development of Bayport will have aprofound impact on the local economy. After five years ofoperation, the combined container and cruise terminal is projectedto generate 9,825 jobs, $395.4 million in personal income, $1.1billion in business revenue and $35.6 million in state and localtaxes. At full build-out in about 15 years, the figures will be32,163 jobs, $1.4 billion in personal income, $2.4 billion inbusiness revenues and $128 million in state and local taxes.

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When fully developed, the terminal will have seven containerberths with the capacity to handle 2.3 million 20-foot equivalentcontainer units annually. It will include a 376-acre container yardand 123-acre intermodal facility.

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McCarthy, a 144-year-old St. Louis-based construction firm, hascompleted 10 projects for the port since 1991. In 2006, it receiveda $50.3-million contract for a 50-acre expansion of the containeryard in the first phase of Bayport. The yard, originally planned tobe 60 acres at opening, was enlarged to 110 yards for thefacility's official launch. Houston-based Dannenbaum EngineeringCorp. designed the upcoming wharf project.

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