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HOUSTON-The US Army Corps of Engineers has postponed delivery of an environmental impact study for the $387-million Bayport facility at the Port of Houston. The deadline is now March 17, 2003 instead of this fall.

The delay puts an obvious kink in the timeline for the project’s first phase. A port authority contact tells GlobeSt.com that the first phase would have delivered in January 2005, but that date is now up in the air. What is certain is there won’t be any permit issued this year for the project situated 30 miles southeast of Houston’s CBD.

The corps says it needs more time to collect more data to ensure all areas of public concern are addressed, according to a prepared statement by the port. Harris County planned to sell bonds to help foot the initial bill, but that too could be delayed as a result of the corps’ decision.

Bayport is to be constructed in six phases over a 15- to 25-year period. Phase one is expected to create 28,580 new jobs, have a regional economic impact of $633.3 million and produce $17.8 million in new state and local taxes.

The 60-acre first phase will bring added dock and container space. At full build-out, the facility will house 7,000 feet of berth, 720 acres of container yards, buildings, equipment, cranes, intermodal rail yard for a maximum of six trains and a 124-acre industrial development area.

“We are in support of the corps’ desire to work through all of the outstanding issues,” said James T. Edmonds, port chairman. “It is essential to have a deliberative process for this proposed project.” In a previous interview, Edmonds told GlobeSt.com that the Bayport Terminal will be the next avenue of growth for the port after its merger with the Port of Galveston was defeated in December 2001.

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