Three Port-Related Projects Among 20 INFRA Grants Announced For 2019
Baltimore, Cleveland and Miami freight projects to receive funding
The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) … the unified and recognized voice of America’s seaports … was pleased to learn today the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has selected and forwarded to Congress 20 projects to receive $900 million in grant funding (before $44 million in administrative costs) under the Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects Program, or INFRA. Of the 20, three are port-related projects … in Baltimore, Cleveland and Miami … that were selected to receive awards totaling $142.06 million, or about 15.7 percent of the total.
The three port-related projects receiving 2019 INFRA grants include:
$125 million to the Maryland Department of Transportation for Baltimore’s Howard Street railroad (CSX Transportation) tunnel to enable double stacking of shipping containers to and from the Port of Baltimore in this crucial freight-rail corridor.
$9.02 million to the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) for Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River bulkhead project to replace dilapidated bulkhead on the Cuyahoga River Ship Channel and prevent a collapse of Franklin Hill along Irishtown Bend. This is a key economic and environmental protection funding initiative for the Port of Cleveland, which worked in coordination with NOACA to secure the INFRA grant
$8.04 million to PortMiami for its Seaboard Marine Terminal rehabilitation and expansion, which is the second year in a row this PortMiami terminal project will get an INFRA grant. Last year it received $7 million for a new gate complex.
Two other INFRA grants will go to projects that, while not directly related to ports, will help alleviate traffic congestion for improved freight movement. One is a $125 million award to the Alabama Department of Transportation to construct a new, six-lane, cable-stayed I-10 bridge across the Mobile River channel near the Port of Mobile. The other is a $10.516 million award to the Southeast Arkansas Economic Development District to rehabilitate a 91.3-mile continuous short-line railroad between McGehee, Ark., and Tallulah, La.
“The INFRA program is a tool that ports must fully utilize for our freight network and supply chain to operate efficiently,” said AAPA President and CEO Kurt Nagle. “While many maritime projects are complex and need multimodal funding tools to build them, there are plenty of highway corridor and first/last mile projects in need of federal funding.
“Ports are national infrastructure resources, serving both metropolitan and rural populations. Port-related projects, when funded, truly embody the term ‘nationally significant.’ We look forward to working with Congress and the Administration in continuing to identify these projects and highlighting their impact on our economy.”
INFRA grants are merit-based, highway-focused projects, unlike BUILD grants which have broad, multimodal eligibility. For example, of the $11 billion of freight funding authorized in the FAST Act under the highway trust fund, only $1.13 billion was multimodal. AAPA has advocated lifting multimodal caps on INFRA grants and the freight formula program.
At the same time, highway and corridor projects are multimodal facilitators that are vitally important to ports and the freight network. As highlighted in AAPA’s 2015 State of Freightreport, nearly 80 percent of AAPA U.S. member ports surveyed said they anticipate a minimum $10 million investment being needed in their ports' intermodal connectors through 2025, while 30 percent anticipate at least $100 million will be needed. Many of these projects are highway connectors or first- and last-mile projects that address increasing pressure on the surface transportation network caused by increased freight volumes and population growth in metropolitan areas where ports are primarily located.
INFRA was established in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act of 2015 and is funded by the Highway Trust Fund. The INFRA grant program preserves the statutory requirement in the FAST Act to award at least 25 percent of funding for rural projects. INFRA grants fund both large and small projects. A large project INFRA grant must be at least $25 million, and a small project must be at least $5 million. For each fiscal year of INFRA funds, 10 percent of the funds provided are reserved for small projects.
According to the FAST Act, USDOT is required to give the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee at least 60 days’ notice before a grant is awarded to a project. During this 60-day period, Congress may pass a joint resolution of disapproval if a project is found objectionable.
Founded in 1912 and recognized as the unified voice of seaports in the Americas, AAPA today represents more than 130 of the leading seaport authorities in the United States, Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean and more than 200 sustaining and associate members, firms and individuals with an interest in seaports. According to IHS Markit’s World Trade Service, combined international sea trade moving through Western Hemisphere ports in 2017 totaled 4.303 billion metric tons in volume and US$2.675 trillion in value. Of that total, ports in Central and South America handled 1.741 billion metric tons of cargo valued at US$1.024 trillion, while North American ports handled 1.90 billion metric tons of goods, valued at US$2.305 trillion. To meet the growing demand for trade, the AAPA and its members are committed to keeping seaports navigable, secure and sustainable. For more information, visit www.aapa-ports.org. On Twitter: http://twitter.com/AAPA_Seaports