Skip to content

America: Keep It Moving

America Keep it Moving web banner

America: Keep it moving – Invest in port infrastructure.

The amount of freight in the U.S. is projected to grow 45% by 2045.  America’s trade volume is expected to quadruple after 2030.  By 2037, the U.S. will export more than 52 million shipping containers through U.S. ports each year.  We must prepare the nation’s infrastructure to meet a growing demand for the safe, efficient movement of freight – American jobs are at stake.

AAPA urges Congress and the new Administration to support infrastructure policies that include robust freight transportation provisions and sustainable funding for the nation’s ports. Recommended actions for federal policymakers include:

  • Through landside investments, eliminate transportation bottlenecks and expand freight capacity at American ports. To improve landside connections to ports and enhance U.S. competitiveness, multimodal freight investments must be a key priority. Now is the time to increase investments in Department of Transportation programs that target port-related infrastructure, including FAST Act freight programs, and the StrongPorts and Marine Highway Programs.

  • Modernize and maintain federal navigation channels through waterside investments. Responsible for channel maintenance and improvement, the Corps of Engineers has an essential role in the safe and efficient movement of maritime freight.  The Corps’ Coastal Navigation Program has overwhelming bipartisan support through the Water Resources Development Act of 2016 – passed in the House by 399-25 and in the Senate by 95-3 – but funding, donor equity, and efficiency challenges remain.  The nation’s waterways are superhighways to the global marketplace and should be fully funded.

To keep America moving, the time to invest in freight transportation infrastructure is now.

At risk:  Critical freight connections and America’s potential for growth.

Freight connections to U.S. ports are falling behind 21st century needs, putting jobs at risk and reducing America’s global competitiveness.

  • Landside: “First and last mile” connectors – roads, railways, bridges and tunnels – serve as vital links between ports and other segments of the nation’s freight transportation network, but congestion is hurting port productivity and threatening communities.
    • One-third of AAPA member ports say congestion at landside connectors has caused productivity to decline by 25 percent or more over the past 10 years.
    • Nearly 80% of ports in the U.S. require at least $10 million investment in their landside connectors through 2025; 31% require over $100 million.
    • Ports & their private sector partners are already doing their share, and will invest more than $155 billion on infrastructure modernization over the next 5 years, yet only $1.1 of $11 billion in freight infrastructure funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation is eligible for multi-modal projects.
    • AAPA and AASHTO’s 2016 State of Freight II report highlights the need for additional and ongoing funding resources for the multi-modal freight network.
  • Waterside: While the Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT) raises over $1.7 billion per year, chronic underspending has resulted in a surplus of more than $9 billion in the HMT Trust Fund—at a time when critical maintenance needs and tax equity are not being addressed. Congress is making good progress to fully fund HMT revenues by 2025, increasing from just over 50% 5 years ago to 71% in FY 2017.
  • According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, failure to invest in our nation’s infrastructure could:
    • Lead to a $4 trillion GDP loss by 2025.
    • Cause a $9.3 billion U.S. trade loss – projected from the use of undersized vessels in shallow harbors and narrow channels – by 2020. By 2040, shallow harbors and channels could:
      • Increase product costs by $14 billion.
      • Cost $3,400 per household in annual discretionary income by 2025 and $5,000 per household.

Ports & Trade: Our heartland’s gateway to the world  

  • American ports send exported products made in rust-belt towns and rural communities from across the heartland to markets around the world. This activity is critical to U.S. employers, manufacturers, workers and farmers.
    • 1 of every 3 acres on American farms is planted for export markets.
    • Value of exported goods from the U.S. was $2.3 trillion in 2014, up 102% since 2004.
    • 7 million jobs were supported by exports in 2014.
    • 1 in 4 U.S. manufacturing jobs depends on exports.
    • 300,000 U.S. business make products for export
      • 98% of all U.S. companies that export are small and medium-sized business, and they account for 1/3 of U.S. merchandise exports.
      • Small and medium-sized business account for one-third of U.S. merchandise exports.
    • Infrastructure investment impacts how these goods reach ports for export. Among the highways that take U.S. goods to market, some 1,200 miles of the nation’s roadways serve as vital freight connections to ports, which are in dire need of investment. 
      • According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, the cost of deficient highways could cost businesses and households up to $575 billion to by 2025, reaching a $3.2 trillion loss by 2040 – affecting everyone from exporters of frozen meat and corn to manufacturers of machinery and electronics.
    • Without efficient land connections, seaports – and U.S. agriculture and manufacturing exporters in America’s heartland – will suffer.

Note: For comprehensive state-by-state export data, see the Chamber’s trade website at: