Nov 28, 2016
The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) last week released a statement echoing President-Elect Trump’s pledge to “Make America Great Again.” In a letter to the transition team, the association outlined several areas for investing the $1trillion pledged by the GOP for rebuilding America.
Upgrading the Last Mile
In 2015 President Obama signed the current FAST ACT into law. FAST (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation) provides a long-term plan for rehabilitating our nation’s roads and bridges. In addition the bill allocates money under the D.O.T to address intermodal projects, allowing ports to better connect the berth to the beltway. It looks at alternative ways to move freight. Moving containers and trailers by water under Short Sea Shipping is also being studied under FAST. The AAPA is asking that $1.25 billion be earmarked under the D.O.T’s Offices of Multimodal Freight Transportation and the Maritime Administration to study new projects.
Maintaining our Ports and Water Ways
The association is asking for a definitive budget and increased funding under the Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT). The HMT in the past hasn’t always been fully spent, nor has it been granted to ports based on cargo volume. The AAPA would like part of the money to be set aside for dredging and maintaining with additional funds given to ports for discretionary spending.
HMT dollars could be used in part for waterborne projects to ease the flow of cargo across the quay.
Securing Our Ports and Marine Borders
Increases to the Port Security Grant Program of at least $100 million have been requested by the AAPA. Funding should be directed to our nation’s ports and prioritized by their threat potential.
Additional money could be used to hire more Customs and Border Protection agents beefing up the maritime staff at major gateways. More Radiation Portal Monitors could be purchased adding an additional layer of security at U.S. Seaports.
The EPA’s Diesel Emissions Reduction program should also receive increased funding. Ports would be able to partner with the Department of Energy and private enterprise to create new technologies for reducing airborne emissions. Further support for Clean Air Action Plans adopted by ports and terminals would allow the marine industry to move forward in their effort toward cleaner air. Programs to address coastal erosion and natural disaster would allow ports to plan mitigation strategies.
Investing in America’s Maritime Future
AAPA’s President and CEO Kurt Nagle said, “it is vital that the United States invest significantly in its ports and freight network…” Our seaports are truly a National Treasure. They account for over a quarter of our economy and support 23 million jobs according to the AAPA. Ports and the private sector plan to spend around $155 billion on infrastructure over the next five years. Federal investment in our maritime industry is imperative and it is hoped that the new administration will recognize the value of our national gateways. How quickly will the new administration react to this sector of our economy?