updated 2/24/2011 3:45:58 PM ET 2011-02-24T20:45:58

HOUSTON, Feb. 24, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Contracts totaling more than $2 million to upgrade software at Port Authority terminals and to expand network connectivity are among several matters that were approved during the regular February 22 meeting of the Port Commission of the Port of Houston Authority.

In his monthly report, Chief Executive Officer Alec G. Dreyer noted that January continued the relatively strong performance of December across all sectors of Port Authority business.  

"While ship arrivals at the container facilities and in the Turning Basin were essentially flat between January of this year and last year, barge traffic was up a stout 30 percent for the first month of the year," Dreyer said. "Nevertheless, TEU volumes were up 5 percent in January while unit counts were up 4 percent. Container tonnage was up a strong 7 percent.

"Put simply, we had the same number of ships arriving between years, but each ship was moving substantially more cargo," he said.

Steel started the year well with 243,000 tons as compared to 154,000 tons in January of 2010: a 58-percent increase. Dreyer said other commodities also showed nice gains for the month, with an overall increase in general cargo of more than 21 percent.

Container revenue was up 8 percent, reflecting the growth in TEUs for the month. Turning Basin revenue was up 24 percent in January, directly in line with the amount of steel handled this year over last.

Finance & Administration

(Agenda I1) The Port Commission approved awarding a $200,000 contract to INX, Inc. for network hardware to expand the Bayport Container Terminal network and provide network connections to new terminal facilities. The terminal is building new facilities that require network connections to provide information technology services to its users and provide connectivity to the Port Authority network.

Operations

(Agenda L4) Port Commissioners approved amending a nearly $2.1 million contract with Zebra Enterprise Solutions, LLC to upgrade software applications used for terminal operations and billing at Barbours Cut, Bayport and Turning Basin terminals. ZES will upgrade the current Express application with its N4 software technology. Initial implementation of the upgraded N4 terminal operating system is planned to occur in tandem with the new truck entry gate at Bayport, which will also enhance efficiency.

Strategic Planning

(Agenda P1) The Port Commission approved amending a $100,000 professional services contract with Texas Transportation Institute to evaluate the indirect economic impacts of inadequate dredging of the Houston Ship Channel. Completed in December 2010, Phase 2 of the study showed that the direct economic impacts of inadequate maintenance of the channel resulted in at least $52 million in losses in 2008. Phase 3 will allow identification and qualification of the indirect economic impacts and enhance funding discussions with the administration and Congress.

About the Port of Houston Authority

The Port of Houston Authority owns and operates the public facilities located along the Port of Houston, the 25-mile-long complex of diversified public and private facilities designed for handling general cargo, containers, grain and other dry bulk materials, project and heavy lift cargo, and other types of cargo. Each year, there are more than 7,700 vessel calls at the port, which ranks first in the U.S. in foreign waterborne tonnage and second in overall total tonnage. The port authority plays a vital role in ensuring navigational safety along the Houston Ship Channel, which has been instrumental in Houston's development as a center of international trade. The Barbours Cut Container Terminal and Central Maintenance Facility are the first of any U.S. port facilities to develop and implement an innovative Environmental Management System that meets the rigorous standards of ISO 14001. The second recertification of those facilities in 2009 included an extension for the state-of-the-art Bayport Container Terminal. The port authority is the first port authority in the world to receive ISO 28000:2007 certification for its port police and the perimeter security operations at both the Barbours Cut and Bayport Terminals. Additionally, the port is an approved delivery point for Coffee "C" futures contracts traded on the New York Board of Trade's Coffee, Sugar & Cocoa Exchange. For more information, please visit www.portofhouston.com

To access the port's Web site photo gallery, please visit http://www.portofhouston.com/publicrelations/publicrelations.html and click the link for Port Authority Photo Gallery.

The Port of Houston Authority logo is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=720

CONTACT: Lisa Ashley, Director, Corporate Communications
         Office: (713) 670-2644
         Cell:  (832) 247-8179
         Email: lashley@poha.com

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