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Published: 10 January 2018
AAPA seeks US$66 billion for US Ports
The American Association of Port Authorities is looking for a huge investment in ports as part of President Trump’s promised $1 trillion infrastructure package.
Port of Cleveland President and CEO William Friedman is to testify before before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) in a hearing titled “America’s Water Infrastructure Needs and Challenges” this week. He will be presenting the AAPA’s pitch for US$66 billion to be allocated to port projects from the President's promised infrastructure package.
The full details of the infrastructure package are not yet known, and in particular there is still a big question mark over exactly how much the Federal Government plans to invest. The latest reports are that the Federal contribution will be in the region of $200M, with expectations that this will generate a further $800M in state and local funding. Comments by the current White House chief economic advisor Gary Cohn, however, have been interpreted to mean the $1 trillion figure will also include private investment.
The AAPA, meantime, is focused on making sure ports get their share. “Seaport cargo activity accounts for 26 percent of U.S. GDP, over 23 million American jobs, and generates over $320 billion annually in federal, state and local tax revenues,” said AAPA President and CEO Kurt Nagle. “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 $66 billion in federal port-related infrastructure investments over the next 10 years, on both the waterside and the landside.”
The APPA notes that ports and their “private sector partners” will invest $155M between 2016 and 2020 in their facilities, and is calling on the Federal Government to make sure that amount is supported by public funds. President Trump is no fan of imports, and the AAPA chose to focus on export container numbers in its figures. “The amount of freight moved in the U.S. is projected to grow 15 percent by 2045, and America’s trade volume is expected to quadruple after 2030. By 2037, the U.S. will export more than 52 million shipping containers through U.S. seaports each year. We must prepare the nation’s infrastructure to meet a growing demand for the safe, efficient movement of freight – American jobs are at stake.”
The majority of the funding the AAP is requesting is for waterside improvements, and improved roads and rail connections for ports. It has identified $27.6 billion needed for projects to maintain deep-draft navigational channels, $18.6M of which it wants to come from “full use of annual Harbour Maintenance Tax (HMT) revenues” and an increase in donor equity. A separate figure of $6.2 billion is needed for the federal share of 15 current congressionally approved channel improvement projects, plus other projects undergoing feasibility studies.
Of the $32.03 billion in land side investments, $28.9 billion is needed for projects that modernise land side connections, while $3.13 billion is needed to fund provide $1.25 billion annually for the TIGER program, 25% of which the AAPA wants to see allocated to ports.
The AAPA will also use the opportunity to lobby for a longer term solution to the slow and complicated system of allocating Harbour Maintenance tax funds to dredging projects. It wants to see the Water Resources Development Act amended to bring in three key changes: allocating Harbour Maintenance Tax revenues directly to the Corps of Engineers rather to the U.S. General Fund; that Congress authorise and construct navigation project improvements recommended in the Corps’ Chief of Engineer’s reports; and additional streamlining to the Corps’ study process for navigation channel improvements.