Pennsylvania Lawmakers Urged to Support Freight Provisions in Surface Transportation Reauthorization Bill
State’s seaports need more than $532 million for landside upgrades to reduce congestion, maintain freight mobility, ensure global competitiveness
The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) – the unified voice of seaports in the Americas – today urged members of the Pennsylvania congressional delegation to support critical freight mobility provisions in a major transportation bill that will be deliberated by the U.S. House this fall.
“With port activity accounting for more than a quarter of the entire U.S. economy, it’s critical that our seaports have seamless links to other segments of the nation’s freight transportation network,” said AAPA President and CEO Kurt Nagle. “Congress must fully fund landside seaport connections that are required to keep freight moving for American manufacturers, workers, farmers, consumers and communities nationwide.”
In the AAPA’s 2015 “The State of Freight” report, Pennsylvania port leaders identified the need for more than $532 million in landside freight infrastructure investments over the next decade. The report also identified a $28.9 billion need for improvements at ports nationwide, where congestion at landside connectors over the past 10 years was linked to a drop in port productivity of up to 25 percent or more.
As part of its “Freight: Keep it Moving” campaign (#FreightKeepItMoving), the AAPA is activating industry leaders and educating lawmakers about the importance of landside infrastructure at U.S. ports, which are increasingly vital for job creation, global competitiveness and the health of the nation’s economy.
The House is expected to act soon on surface transportation legislation. In July, the Senate passed its version of the legislation, the DRIVE Act (H.R. 22), that includes policy provisions and funding for freight transportation projects. AAPA leaders say they are raising awareness about the risks posed by failing to fund programs that benefit port connections such as railways, roads, bridges and tunnels.
According to a recent report by Martin Associates of Lancaster, Pa., U.S. seaport cargo activity in 2014 sustained more than 23 million jobs and generated $321 billion in tax revenue. In addition, the total value of maritime activity related to America’s seaports last year reached $4.6 trillion, or 26 percent of the total U.S. economy, an increase of six percent since 2007. Much of this economic activity was generated by $6 billion worth of goods moving through U.S. seaports on a daily basis – a level of freight mobility threatened by increasing congestion and a lack of federal support for infrastructure.
“The ability of U.S. seaports to efficiently move freight is threatened by conditions that severely limit productivity and competitiveness,” said Mr. Nagle. “Fully funded freight provisions in the next surface transportation bill will help us build world-class port connections and maintain a leading role in global trade and domestic job creation.”