Alaska and California Receive Over $200M from DOT for Port Upgrades

DOT grants for port infrastructure
Port of Alaska in Anchorage received the largest grant which will go toward portexpansion (file photo)

Published Oct 27, 2022 2:14 PM by The Maritime Executive

The U.S. Department of Transportation continues to award grants designed to support the modernization and transformation of America’s ports under the Biden administration’s infrastructure initiatives. In addition to basic improvements in existing port facilities and expansion, the projects are focusing on projects linked to the environment including the electrification of ports and their equipment.

Funding for these projects is coming from a series of legislation passed by the U.S. Congress. In addition to the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Act, this includes the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and funding from the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022. The IIJA provided for significant investment in the nation’s maritime infrastructure, making $2.25 billion in additional funds available over five years to the Port Infrastructure Development Program (PIDP).

The senators from Alaska and California are taking the opportunity to highlight the investments being made in their states. Four Alaska coastal communities will receive a total of $112 million in investments this year for critical port-related infrastructure and ferry terminal projects, while the Alaska congressional group highlights that over the past three years roughly $120 million in federal grants have been made for the Port of Alaska, located in Anchorage.

The Port of Alaska received the largest of the recently announced grants with a $68.7 million grant. According to DOT, the monies will be used to reconfigure and realign the shoreline within the area north of the existing general cargo terminals as well as for the demolition of a sheet pile wall, removal of approximately 1.3 million cubic yards of material, and construction of a shoreline revetment of armor rock.

The other projects in Alaska include $28.2 million for upgrades and modifications at three Prince William Sound ferry terminals—Cordova, Tatitlek, and Chenega—to accommodate Alaska Marine Highway System ferries. DOT also awarded $5.3 million for installing more than 1,000 feet of new floating dock and supporting access, utility, and safety infrastructure to the Aleutians East Borough's efforts to fully build out the community's harbor. Also in the Aleutian Islands, a $10.1 million grant was awarded for making repairs and updates to the primary supply pier as well as other port upgrades.

“Ports, harbors, and the Alaska Marine Highway System are all essential to our state, serving as a lifeline that connects our coastal communities,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski. “These new Port Infrastructure Development Program grants will be the first of many additional opportunities to deliver vital port-related infrastructure funding to our state that will bring benefits to Alaska for decades to come.”

Senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla from California are highlighting $94 million in Transportation Department grants to bolster infrastructure at six key California ports with a focus on electrification, emissions reduction, and port congestion. They are calling the investments critical to the long-term operations noting that California’s ports account for approximately 40 percent of all U.S. imports and 30 percent of all U.S. After the backlogs that made headlines in 2021, California’s ports have been the focus on investments both from the federal and state governments.

The ports of Oakland and Los Angeles are receiving the largest of the new grants. Oakland will receive $36.6 million that will fund the construction of a 25-acre off-dock container support facility, along with various port infrastructure upgrades and battery storage and charging stations. The Port of Los Angeles will receive $30.1 million that will help replace diesel tractors with electric ones, construct electric equipment charging infrastructure, and install equipment to streamline cargo-handling operations.

The other grants to California’s ports include $9.6 million each to San Francisco and Stockton for upgrade projects. Supporting the commercial fishing industry, the Crescent City Harbor District receives $7.4 million for a new seawall and other upgrades while the City of Eureka receives $650,000 for repair to a pier used by commercial fishermen in Humboldt Bay.