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US ports get major funding in Congressional appropriations

PortandTerminal.com, December 19, 2019

WASHINGTON – Yesterday Congress released two budget appropriation packages that will see major funding for America’s ports.

The spending bill that is now headed for the President Trump’s desk allocates a ton of money for port infrastructure development (waterside and landside), invests in multimodal transportation, and “ensures the timely inspection of goods moving through our nation’s ports” according to the American Journal of Transporation.

Full credit is due to the AAPA for their tireless work championing these much-needed budget allocations in Washington.

Here’s a quick summary of who gets what.

I. Army Corps of Engineers

Coastal Navigation – $2.76 billion – This is a 35% increase over FY 2019 funding, with significant increases in Construction as well as Operations and Maintenance.

Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund – $1.63 billion – This amount is above the target set by the Water Resources Development Act of 2014 aimed at ensuring full use of Harbor Maintenance by 2025.

Construction – $1.12 billion – This includes a Regional Dredging Demonstration Program funding for $377.65 million.

Donor and Energy Transfer – $50 million – The bill ensures level funding for the Donor and Energy Transfer Port Program along with Congressional encouragement that the Army Corps of Engineers include funding for this program in future Congressional requests.

II. Department of Transportation

Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) Transportation Program (formerly TIGER) – $1 billion – With passage of this bill, $100 million over FY’ 2019 will be made available for BUILD grants, increasing eligible port investments and leveraging local and state investments in Ports.

Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) – $1 billion – While Congress has directed that multimodal projects should not be the focus of this program in FY ‘2020, the Secretary of Transportation is directed to invest in a variety of transportation modes – including port infrastructure improvements and multimodal infrastructure projects – with this year’s grants.

a. Maritime Administration

Port Infrastructure Development Program – $225 million – PIDP funds will be made available for a number of purposes, including gate improvements, road and rail improvements both within and connecting to ports, berth improvements, cargo operations improvements, and in utilities necessary for safe operations (or any combination of these purposes). While this number is lower than last year, it is a significant improvement over the Administration’s efforts to zero out the program. Additionally, a larger share of these funds, $200 million, is set aside for coastal seaports or Great Lakes ports. AAPA considers this level of funding a victory, and something to build upon in coming years.

b. Federal Railway Administration

Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) Program – $325 million – Increased by $70 million over previous levels, allowing for additional investment in various railroad infrastructure projects. In previous years Ports have used these funds to expand rail capacity and replace structurally deficient bridges.

Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) Program – This program is authorized so long as any direct loan or loan guarantees remain outstanding.

III. U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Port Security Grant Program (PSGP) – $100 million – Level funding, and more than $73 million above the President’s request. AAPA provides annual data showing the as-of-yet unmet need for security funding at ports, but the level funding – above the President’s request – is comparable to the levels in other FEMA security grant programs.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) – $104 million – specifically for hiring additional up to 610 CBP officers and agriculture specialists, consistent with AAPA’s request.

IV. Environmental Protection Agency

Diesel Emissions Reduction Grants – $87 million – These grants are funded at identical levels to the prior year, continuing to make available grants to protect human health and improve air quality by reducing harmful emissions from diesel engines.

National Estuary Program – $29.8 million – This program is slightly increased from previous levels, with at least $1.35 million of these funds to be awarded competitively.

V. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Physical Oceanographic Real-Time System (PORTS) Program – No Less Than $6.25 million – This package slightly increases the PORTS program funding from FY’ 2019 and sets a floor for program funding

AAPA President, Chris Connor, remarked that “ultimately much more is needed, but this package reflects the association’s ongoing priorities for improving the critical infrastructure that is represented at America’s seaports and will go a long way to enhancing trade and transportation across the nation.”

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