Navigation channels are an essential component for safe and efficient freight movement, providing access to the sea and to the dock. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) is responsible for navigation channel construction and maintenance. Channel deepening is authorized in the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) legislation. Several ports have channel improvements authorized by Congress.
Navigation channel maintenance is 100% funded through the Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT). Tax revenues are considered sufficient to fully maintain channel depths and widths, but annual appropriations were about half the annual HMT revenue. WRRDA 2014 established funding targets to get to full HMT use by 2025. WRRDA 2014 also addressed tax fairness issues for HMT donor and energy transfer ports. WRDA 2016 made additional improvements to Corps processes.