HOUSTON -

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has given the green light for the Port of Houston Authority to begin construction  on the Bayport and Barbours Cut channel.

The improvement project at the Port Authority's two container terminals will deepen the channels from 40 feet to 45 feet, making it match the depth of the Houston Ship Channel. The Port of Houston Authority said the project will also widen or realign the channels by up to 100 feet to better accommodate larger ships.

"We are investing in the future of our port. The project demonstrates our commitment to facilitating commerce," said Port Commission Chairman Janiece Longoria through a press release.

The Port of Houston Authority plans to award the $68 million construction contract to Orion Constructions with dredging is expected to begin at the end of May.

The Port Authority is funding the projects at its sole cost to ensure the channels improvements are available as soon as possible to better accommodate larger container ships in preparation of the opening of the expanded Panama Canal in 2016.