Infrastructure investments in America's seaports and their intermodal connections--both on the land and in the water--provide opportunities to bolster our economy, create and sustain jobs, enhance our international competitiveness and pay annual dividends. Yet, despite the national significance of ports most port-related investments are limited to state or local appropriations. If there are multiple ports within a state, they often compete for the same funding resources if any funding programs exist at all.
Grants, like the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) competitive grant program, have represented the primary source of federal port investment. The Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act of 2015 created a national freight program with a $4.5 billion competitive grant program to fund eligible port-related projects. The Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) of 2014 also authorized port-related projects, however authorized projects were often left unappropriated in the federal appropriations cycle.
The federal Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF), designed to pay for dredging in harbors collects its revenue through a user fee on the value of the cargo in imported containers. Despite the significant dredging needs at the majority of US ports, the fund's balance has often been used for other purposes including federal deficit offsets and as a result has not been appropriated for its designated purpose.
To provide adequate resources for three key federal programs that help fund multimodal port-related infrastructure in the US, the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) recently sent a letter to the leadership of both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees' Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development and Related Agencies (THUD) advocating for dedicated funding for port infrastructure in the final Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 US Department of Transportation (DOT) Spending Bill.
The letter commends the subcommittees' leadership on their commitment to fund multimodal port infrastructure, such as the first/last mile connections such as roads, rails, bridges, tunnels and waterways with America's seaports. It also strongly recommends they adopt the House provision that a third of the funding for the portion of the National Infrastructure Investment Program focusing on multimodal BUILD/TIGER-style projects...