Survey Shows U.S. Ports Plan Big Infrastructure Investments Through 2025
Covid-19 impacts could hold back much of the $163B in planned port capital project spending without federal assistance
In the third iteration of its Port Planned Infrastructure Investment Survey, the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) – the unified and recognized voice of America’s seaports in the Americas – again asked its U.S. member ports how much they and their port property tenants plan to invest in port-related infrastructure over the next five years.
The answer is $163.1 billion. That’s up 5.4 percent from AAPA’s 2016 survey in which U.S. public ports and their private-sector partners planned spending $154.8 billion on port capital projects through the end of 2020.
Because this survey was conducted prior to the covid-19 contagion, ports are concerned that many of these planned investments could be delayed or significantly downsized without assistance from federal, state and local government entities in the form of grants, loans, guarantees and other forms of relief. These are typical ways that governments attract local public and private-sector equity investment to jump-start infrastructure development.
“Federal government alliances with local agencies, like port authorities and their tenants, generally improve conditions for infrastructure development by reducing investment risks and providing access to needed capital,” said AAPA President and CEO. Chris Connor. “These alliances incentivize and accelerate building of critical infrastructure by leveraging private-sector investment. In turn, this prioritizes long-term value creation over short-term politics, bridging the infrastructure divide and strengthening the economy.”
He added that infrastructure investments in America’s seaports and their intermodal connections – both on the land and in the water – “create and sustain jobs, make transportation more efficient, and provide some of the best ways possible to bolster our economy that will benefit the nation for generations to come.”
A recent report prepared by Inforum at the University of Maryland for the U.S. Committee on the Marine Transportation System, demonstrates that increasing investment in marine transportation system infrastructure above a business-as-usual scenario will improve U.S. economic performance. That report notes increased investment in infrastructure such as ports and inland waterways would deliver higher levels of GDP, more jobs, increased incomes, improved trade performance and higher productivity.
“This crisis will eventually subside, and investments into America’s ports will be a big part of the solution that will get our economy up and running again,” noted Mr. Connor, “America’s seaports are working hard to keep cargo moving, and they’ll continue to make investments that keep the economy moving. They just need the federal government to partner with them toward this goal.”
AAPA completed its latest infrastructure investment survey at the end of March 2020. The following is a regional breakdown of survey respondents:
U.S. Port Region
Projected Ports' Capital Expenditures for 2021-2025
Projected Port Tenants' Capital Expenditures for 2021-2025
TOTAL Project Port and Port Tenant Capital Expenditures for 2021-2025
To review actions AAPA is recommending that Congress take to support port workers and the U.S. port industry as it responds to and recovers from the coronavirus crisis, as well as recommendations for FY 2021 port-related infrastructure appropriations, go to https://bit.ly/3bKnR0b.
About AAPA Founded in 1912 and recognized as the unified voice of seaports in the Americas, AAPA today represents 130 of the leading seaport authorities in the United States, Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean and more than 250 industry solution providers and individuals with an interest in seaports. Cargo activities at U.S. seaports support nearly $31 million American jobs and account for 26 percent of the U.S. economy, generating nearly $5.4 trillion in total economic activity and more than $378 billion in federal, state and local taxes in 2018. To meet the growing demand for trade, 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