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U.S. DOT Awards $280 Million in Port Infrastructure Funding

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The twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach received $18 million and $14.5 million respectively (file image)

By The Maritime Executive 02-20-2020 08:49:00

Last week, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration announced that it has awarded more than $280 million in grant funding through the new Port Infrastructure Development Program for coastal seaports.

“Ports are gateways to the world and port infrastructure investments will improve the regional economy, increase productivity and economic competitiveness, and create more jobs,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao. 

The Port Infrastructure Development Program supports efforts by ports and industry stakeholders to improve facility and freight infrastructure. It provides capital financing and project management assistance to improve port capacity and efficiency. 

“We are very excited to have the opportunity to work more directly with America’s ports to enhance their facilities,” said Maritime Administrator Mark H. Buzby. “The grants awarded will ensure that these facilities are operating at their highest, most productive capacities.”

The Port Infrastructure Development Program was renamed the Port Intermodal Infrastructure Program (PIIP) in FY2020, and the two funding rounds will have disbursed a total of more than $500 million by the end of this year. The Trump administration’s proposed FY2021 budget would eliminate the PIIP program going forward.

High-priority projects

The grant recipients include the long-awaited Port of Alaska Modernization Program, a replacement and revitalization project for liquid and dry bulk cargo. The grant will support the construction of a new petroleum and cement marine terminal. It also promotes energy-efficient trade throughout south-central Alaska while increasing the facility’s overall efficiency.

“The Port of Alaska is the only Department of Defense strategic seaport near the Arctic — a fact we cannot overlook as sea ice recedes, traffic accelerates and our country’s adversaries, particularly Russia, grow their maritime capabilities in the region,” Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) said in a statement. "This grant will help restore the Port of Alaska’s status as a safe, cost-effective, reliable and resilient piece of infrastructure.”

In Florida, PortMiami received $44 million for the construction of a fumigation and cold processing center for produce. It is intended to improve the efficiency and reliability of movement for perishable goods and temperature-controlled cargo at the port, improving its competitiveness for food product shipping. With the new facility, shippers will pay less for USDA inspections by fumigating large quantities at once, according to Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL).   

“More than a million containers of cargo come through PortMiami each year, much of it containing fruits, vegetables and flowers from South America. When they are brought to the United States, they require fumigation to ensure that the products are safe,” said Rep. Diaz-Balart. “Unfortunately, PortMiami has limited space and, consequently, usually fumigates in a trailer capable of holding only 20 pallets of commodity. In seaports with more land available, this fumigation is done all at once in warehouses capable of holding up to 2,400 pallets.”

Other projects to receive grant funding in this round included:

Long Beach, California: Alameda Corridor South Access - Terminal Island Rail Junction Project (awarded $14,500,000)

Los Angeles, California: Port of Los Angeles Multimodal Freight Network Improvement Program - Fenix Container Terminal Intermodal Railyard Expansion and Modernization Project (awarded $18,184,743)

Cape Canaveral, Florida: Port Canaveral Cargo Berth Rehabilitation and Modernization Project (awarded $14,100,000)

Savannah, Georgia: Container Berth 1 Realignment (awarded $34,600,000)

LaPlace, Louisiana: Globalplex Multi-Modal Connections Project (awarded $13,410,662)

Duluth, Minnesota: Duluth Port Logistics Hub 2020 Revitalization and Expansion (awarded $10,500,000) 

Harrison County, Mississippi: Port of Gulfport Access Project (awarded $15,760,000) 

Cleveland, Ohio: Port of Cleveland’s Dock 24 and 26 Master Modernization and Rehabilitation Project (awarded $11,000,000) 

Toledo, Ohio: Port of Toledo Intermodal Project (awarded $16,000,000) 

Charleston, South Carolina: Wando Welch Terminal Wharf Toe Wall and Berth Deepening Project (awarded $19,986,000)

Corpus Christi, Texas: Avery Point Public Oil Docks Redevelopment (awarded $17,600,000)

Houston, Texas: Bayport Terminal Intermodal Expansion to Meet Demand Project (awarded $21,840,000)

Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Agricultural Maritime Export Facility (awarded $15,893,543)