Port of LA wins US$58M for harbour maintenance

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Port of Los Angeles secures record amount for harbour maintenance following long-awaited reforms to the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF).

The Port of Los Angeles is set to receive an estimated US$58 million in federal funding this year for harbour channel maintenance and wharf repairs.

“The San Pedro Bay ports move 40% of the nation’s container imports, transporting the goods that power our economy,” said California Sen. Alex Padilla. “I am glad to see the Army Corps heed my call to fund these crucial upgrades for the Port of Los Angeles that will bolster global supply chains and make long overdue repairs.”

This record allocation follows reforms to the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) long sought by the port, aiming for a fairer distribution of funds for essential harbour upkeep and repairs.

Namely, certain U.S. deep-water ports received minimal federal investment despite contributing significantly to the HMTF revenue.

HMTF, administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is funded by a 0.125% tax on the value of importers’ cargo and is intended for financing maintenance projects on the nation’s navigable waterways to ensure the safe flow of commerce. Initially designated for maintenance dredging, the HMTF, established in 1986, gradually accumulated a multibillion-dollar surplus as revenues exceeded spending.

Notably, ports like Los Angeles and Long Beach, although major contributors to HMTF revenue, received a modest 3% return due to their naturally deep harbours requiring fewer maintenance dredging projects.

The federal 2024 Fiscal Year allocation of approximately US$58 million to the Port of Los Angeles is a nearly tenfold increase compared with US$6 million it received in 2023, marking the full implementation of these reforms.

“We started this fight in 2011 with my amendment in the Transportation Committee to provide relief to donor ports, such as Los Angeles and Long Beach,” said Rep. Grace Napolitano. “It has been a long time coming working with other ports around the country, the Army Corps of Engineers, and several Presidential Administrations to finally pass the donor port amendment into law as a part of the Water Resources Development Act of 2020.”

“After decades of imbalanced HMTF allocations, where West Coast ports received 11 times less funding than East Coast and Gulf ports, our local ports are finally set to get a more equitable share than they have previously received. This federal funding will address critical infrastructure needs, including wharf repairs, seismic safety upgrades, environmental remediation, and other essential harbour maintenance projects to improve the safety and efficiency of operations at the Port of Los Angeles,” Rep. Nanette Barragán said.

 “We have important harbour infrastructure projects in the pipeline and this funding will go a long way to accelerating these repairs and ensuring the Port of Los Angeles’ infrastructure remains world-class,” said Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka.

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