AJOT Insights

Trump presidency viewed as plus as ports seek infrastructure gains

Dec 06, 2016

Having Donald Trump in the White House is apt to help advance infrastructure improvements at ports and throughout the U.S. supply chain, the head of the AAPA (American Association of Port Authorities) said today.

“We do fully expect that it’s going to take a combination of sources and resources at the local, state and federal levels, as well as private sector,” AAPA President and CEO Kurt Nagle said in response to a question from the AJOT. “Certainly, President-elect Trump has talked very vocally about desire to rebuild America’s infrastructure, talking about up to $1 trillion of an infrastructure package in the new Congress.”

Nagle noted that, at a Dec. 1 rally in Cincinnati, Trump explicitly talked about the need to deepen U.S. harbors to accommodate larger vessels.

“So we think there is a recognition by the new administration and certainly in Congress, by what we saw from the FAST Act and hopefully a water resources bill this week, that we need to invest in not just our overall infrastructure but certainly our transportation infrastructure and specifically our freight transportation infrastructure if we’re going to be able to compete internationally,” Nagle continued. “It’s obviously a priority that the president-elect has stated.”

Kurt Nagle, president and CEO of American Association of Port Authorities, sees a Trump presidency as favorable for port infrastructure. (Photo by Paul Scott Abbott, AJOT)
Kurt Nagle, president and CEO of American Association of Port Authorities, sees a Trump presidency as favorable for port infrastructure. (Photo by Paul Scott Abbott, AJOT)

Nagle said he is “extremely encouraged” by Trump’s expressed commitment to freight infrastructure, including through anticipated introduction early in his administration of a freight infrastructure funding package.

Nagle made the comments in a teleconference linked to release of a report from the American Association of Port Authorities and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

Interestingly, the other AAPA participant in the teleconference, M. Kathleen Broadwater, deputy executive director of the MPA (Maryland Port Administration) and 2015-16 chairwoman of AAPA’s Legislative Policy Council and Freight Task Force, refused to comment on the impact of a Trump presidency, firmly stating, “I have no opinion on that topic.”

The newly released report, “The State of Freight II: Implementing the FAST Act and Beyond,” says “freight took a major step forward” with the December 2015 signing into law of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act. But, the report says, “the promise of a 21st century freight network has yet to be fulfilled.”

“Just six months after passage of the FAST Act, with over $258 billion in identified freight projects from just 18 states, 36 percent of the country reported seeing vast investment needs,” according to the report’s conclusion. “Similarly, with 29 states, representing 56 percent of the country, reporting 6,202 projects, there is a significant potential backlog in investment.”

The report also cites the importance of greater funding eligibility for non-highway projects and calls for greater coordination related to port channel endeavors between the U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Suggestions offered by AAPA and AASHTO include:

  • Continuing to provide Highway Trust Fund apportionments to states for highway freight projects through the National Highway Freight program while encouraging coordination with the U.S. DOT’s Build America Bureau and national and state freight advisory committees to better leverage private-sector investment;
  • Providing additional and ongoing funding resources for the overall multimodal freight network to supplement highway formula dollars while also funding discretionary grant programs;
  • Re-establishing a properly funded and staffed Office of Multimodal Freight Transportation within the U.S. DOT Office of the Secretary to address multimodal domestic and international freight planning needs across DOT’s various modal administrations; and
  • Moving the harbor maintenance tax from discretionary to mandatory spending, enabling full tax revenues to be used for the intended purpose of navigational channel maintenance.

Go to http://aapa.files.cms-plus.com/PDFs/SOF-2.pdf to view the complete report.

Author Photo
For more than a quarter of a century, Paul Scott Abbott has been writing and shooting images for the American Journal of Transportation, applying four decades of experience as an award-winning journalist. A graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, with a master’s magna cum laude from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Abbott has served as president of chapters of the Propeller Club of the United States, Florida Public Relations Association and Society of Professional Journalists. Abbott honed his skills on several daily newspapers, including [em]The Cincinnati Enquirer, The Richmond (Va.) News Leader, Albuquerque Journal and (South Florida) Sun-Sentinel, and was editor and publisher of The County Line, a weekly newspaper he founded in suburban Richmond, Va.[/em] A native Chicagoan, he is a member of American Mensa and an ever-optimistic fan of the Chicago Cubs.