New plant bringing barge traffic on Cow Bayou
Last updated 5/16/2023 at 7pm
Highway traffic won't be the only thing affected by the construction of the new $8.5 billion Golden Triangle Polymers plant. Barges will be hauling huge modular pieces for the plant and other heavy equipment up Cow Bayou to State Highway 87.
The plant has announced the formation of a Marine Offloading Facility, or MOF, along the bayou near the state highway. According to a map the company released, the MOF will be near the High Tides restaurant area in Bridge City. The site is near the intersection of Highway 87 and Highway 62, which is also labeled as Highway 73 on the map released by the company.
After the modules and equipment are taken off barges, they will be put on heavy hauling vehicles to travel eastward past FM 1006 to the plant site nearby on Highway 87. The heavy hauling vehicles will use Gate 2 to enter and exit the plant. The gate is across from the Orange County Airport.
The company, with permission from the Texas Department of Transportation, has installed concrete barriers between the outside lane of Highway 87 and the inside lane. The outside lane can now be used for construction traffic only while regular travelers are down to one lane on the way from Bridge City to Orange. Both lanes are currently open from Orange to Bridge City.
The $8.5 billion Golden Triangle Polymers plant is a joint venture of Chevron Phillips and Qatar Energy. According to the company, the construction will require 200 barge transfers for 350 pieces of equipment. The transfers are expected to be made across 20 months, which would average 10 barges a month.
The heavy load vehicles to transport the equipment from the barges can carry in excess of 55,000 pounds, or 47.5 tons. The city of Orange has already passed an ordinance outlining routes for the heavy equipment, although city officials say they cannot regulate the traffic on state-maintained highways and farm to market roads.
Earlier this year, Orange County Commissioners Court passed a resolution supporting the cities of Orange and West Orange to get special state legislation to allow them to control heavy industrial equipment on roadways.
The plant is being built on more than 2,000 acres that have been cleared between Highway 87, Foreman Road, and FM 1006. Already, commuters have been complaining about the traffic in the area and the dust from construction.
The barges could cause even more vehicle traffic problems because the county's swing bridge on East Roundbunch Road will need to be opened to accommodate the shipping barges. East Roundbunch Road is a popular shortcut from Bridge City to the numerous chemical plants already along FM 1006, locally known as "Chemical Row."
Orange County worked for five years to attract the new plant here and Chevron Phillips officially announced the construction in late 2022. A ground-breaking ceremony was held in March.
The plant is expected to create up to 4,500 construction jobs with the facility forecast to open in 2026. When the plant opens, it is will have an estimated 500 permanent jobs. Chevron Phillips officials say the new plant should have a $50 billion impact on the county during the next 20 years.