AAPA Proposes $66 Billion Infrastructure Plan


By The Maritime Executive 01-11-2018 03:53:55

The American Association of Port Authorities is recommending a ten-year, $66 billion federal port infrastructure program to help seaports accommodate the United States' growing marine cargo volumes. 

“AAPA is looking forward with great anticipation to a focus on America’s infrastructure investment needs by the Trump Administration and Congress in 2018 . . . including waterside infrastructure that needs to be addressed in the next WRDA (Water Resources Development Act) legislation,” said AAPA President and CEO Kurt Nagle. 

In addition to WRDA, the Trump administration is expected to focus its legislative efforts on a $1 trillion infrastructure package this year, after last year's push to repeal the Affordable Care Act and reshape federal tax policy. The White House expects to release a draft of its proposal in February. 

In testimony on Thursday, Port of Cleveland CEO and AAPA representative William Friedman told the Senate Environment and Infrastructure Committee that America's public ports need to be included in any infrastructure plan. 

"AAPA has identified $66 billion in potential federal waterside and landside investments over the next decade that will help assure the benefits from an anticipated $155 billion in port-related capital infrastructure investments," Friedman said.  The water side amount consists of full use of [Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund] revenues over the 10-year period; use of the $9 billion HMT surplus to restore federal navigation channels; and $6.2 billion for the Federal share of cost-shared channel improvements."

Friedman also reiterated AAPA's call for the foreign freight taxes accumulated in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund to be turned over to the Army Corps of Engineers for harbor improvements, as the fund's proceeds were intended. HMT funds have been repurposed by Congress for general appropriations for some time, though legislation passed in 2016 is gradually returning a greater share to waterways improvements. 

According to the Congressional Problem Solvers Caucus, allowing the expenditure of these revenues would provide more than $18 billion over the next decade, increasing investment by nearly one third. The caucus released a report on infrastructure investment on Thursday, and it called for dedicating 100 percent of the HMT proceeds to port and harbor dredging. In addition, the bipartisan group called for amending two federal grant programs to allow the inclusion of more multimodal projects, not just highways, bridges and roads.