US ports and the freight-handling industry will receive close to US$11 billion in funding for freight programs, as part of a $305 billion, five-year plan set out by the US-Senate conference committee entitled the 'Fixing America's Surface Transportation' Act.
This follows a move made by the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA), urging House and Senate conferees to include dedicated funding for freight projects, omit specific port performance metrics, and re-authorise the Export-Import Bank.
Kurt Nagle, President and CEO of the AAPA, said: “AAPA is pleased by the broad eligibility of seaports for infrastructure grants and other financing in this bill. For the first time we have dedicated funding for multimodal freight projects.
“This is a big step forward. It shows that congress and the administration firmly recognise that seaports must be connected to America’s surface transportation network in order for the freight network to be efficient.”
Mr Nagle said that placing freight policy under the US Department of Transportation Under Secretary for Policy will pay immediate dividends.
He said: “There are freight projects that are ready to go and freight bottlenecks that must be addressed. AAPA looks forward to continuing to work with USDOT as our new freight policies take shape.”
Many of the policy and funding freight programs included in the FAST Act conference report were discussed in AAPA’s 2015: The State of Freight, released in April, 2014.
In that report, US ports alone identified a need for 46 multimodal projects totalling $7.5 billion over the next decade.
Mr Nagle concluded: “Overall, the language in the conference report supports many of AAPA’s long-standing priorities and recognises the importance of efficient freight movement to our economy and quality of life. We applaud lawmakers for crafting a bill that prioritises freight movement.”