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AAPA calls for more port funding

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced its list of recipients for $500 million in discretionary grant funding (less administrative costs) for road, transit, maritime and rail projects in Round 9 of the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program.

Of the 41 projects awarded grants in this round, five are port-related, although only two (out of 40 port applications submitted) are going to marine port authorities. Port-related projects will receive a total of $72.7 million, or about 14.54 percent of the nearly $500 million available.

Baltimore County, Maryland, will receive $20 million for the Mid-Atlantic Multi-Modal Transportation Hub to build state-of-the-art cargo-handling facilities at the Sparrows Point industrial facility in East Baltimore as part of a larger investment program to repurpose a former steel manufacturing site with marine service into a multimodal logistics hub.

The Alabama State Port Authority will receive $12.7 million for its Southeast Automotive Gateway. The project is to convert an abandoned bulk handling facility at the Port of Mobile into a roll-on/roll-off mobile vehicle processing facility.

The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) stated that it has consistently called for port-related projects to receive at least 25% of the grant total. Kurt Nagle, AAPA’s president and CEO, stated that he believes it’s important for America’s seaports to be key components of USDOT’s TIGER discretionary grants program because of the critical role ports play in moving goods, sustaining jobs and bolstering the nation’s economy.  He noted that direct funding for maritime infrastructure projects, including connections to ports, will improve freight mobility which helps reduce transportation costs and makes U.S. exports more attractive to overseas buyers.

“TIGER grants are one of the few federal funding programs available to public port authorities to help them pay for critical infrastructure to move and handle freight more efficiently,” said Mr. Nagle. “While we’re pleased there were at least a few port-related projects included in the ninth round of TIGER grants just announced, we’re disappointed there weren’t more.”

He added: “Projects that aid the movement of goods through America’s ports should be a high priority for these federal grants, and port-related projects should be among the leading candidates. It’s also important that projects from the full range of port sizes and types receive grant awards in any future rounds of TIGER funding.”

Seaport cargo activity throughout the nation accounts for 26% of U.S. GDP, over 23 million American jobs, and generates over $320bn annually in federal, state and local tax revenues. To ensure these jobs, tax revenues and freight volumes continue to grow and support the American economy, AAPA has worked with its member ports to identify $66bn in federal port-related infrastructure investments over the next 10 years, on both the waterside and the landside. These federal investments are necessary to supplement the approximately $155bn in capital improvements that U.S. port authorities and their private-sector partners are planning between 2016 and 2020. 

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