Federal investment in ports, freight movement proposed

2017, March 1: The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) is advocating strategic investments in seaports and related freight transportation assets as a strategy to achieve a better economic future for America.

In a letter to the Trump transitional team in November last, AAPA President Kurt Nagle listed the AAPA’s recommendations, including:

  1. Relief of traffic bottlenecks and expansion of capacity by:
    • providing additional FAST Act investments and a sustainable freight trust fund to plan and build multimodal projects;
    • establishing a properly funded and staffed Office of Multimodal Freight Transportation within the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Office of the Secretary;
    • supporting funding for a robust Strong Ports programme under the USDOT Maritime Administration to help ports plan for their 21st century infrastructure needs;
    • increasing investments for authorized marine highway projects to ensure transportation alternatives alongside congested landside transportation corridors; and,
    • increasing funding for transportation infrastructure grants to $1.25 billion per year.
  1. Modernising and full maintenance of federal navigation channels by:
    • making harbour maintenance tax (HMT) spending a priority;
    • continuing the goal toward full use of the HMT;
    • ensuring equity and fairness of HMT distributions;
    • increasing funding for HMT maintenance spending in the FY2018 budget request, including funding for Donor and Energy Transfer Ports; devising a permanent solution as part of tax reform or other legislation for ensuring all annual HMT revenues are spent;
    • increasing federal investment in navigation channel deepening and widening;
    • improving efficiencies in the deep-draft study and construction process;
    • continuing progress to finish navigation projects in a timely manner to better compete in world markets; and,
    • providing operations and maintenance funding for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Physical Oceanic Real-Time System, or “PORTS,” to help mariners navigate safely.
  1. Securing America’s ports and waterside borders by:
    • increasing the Federal Emergency Management Administration’s Port Security Grant Program (PSGP) funding level to at least $100 million per year; directing grant funding to ports rather than to other entities with very low commercial seaport threats;
    • continuing the management and control of the PSGP at the federal level;
    • providing 500 additional Customs and Border Protection (CBP) maritime staff to U.S. seaports to meet trade needs and ensure cargo is safe and moves efficiently; and,
    • getting adequate federal funding to purchase, install and maintain Radiation Portal Monitors (RPM) within ports throughout the U.S.
    • Help protect the environment and build resilience by:
    • increasing funding for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) program;
    • creating a 21st Century Port Portfolio within the Department of Energy (DOE) that allows ports and the DOE to partner on new technologies that reduce air emissions, connect ports to the grid, provide electrification opportunities for port operations, and provide support and expertise for new clean energy terminal designs and build-outs; and,
    • ensuring federal agency programs that address natural disasters and coastal erosion include assistance to seaports to help predict, plan and adopt mitigation strategies.

America’s seaports account for more than 25% of the national economy. Local ports and their private-sector partners plan to invest nearly $155 billion into infrastructure in the next five years. []