U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood recently announced the 42 construction projects and 33 planning projects which were awarded funding under the second round of the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program for major infrastructure projects ranging from highways and bridges, to transit, rail and ports. Of the $600 million in available TIGER II grants, DOT received nearly 1,000 construction grant applications totaling more than $19 billion. Seven of the 42 capital project funding requests selected for awards went to America's ports, totaling $94,840,133, or about 17 percent of the total $556,577,591 in capital grant funds available.
"DOT Secretary LaHood has indicated on numerous occasions the value and importance of seaport-related infrastructure to America's overall transportation system and our nation's competitiveness in global trade," said American Association of Port Authorities President and CEO Kurt Nagle. "We applaud this recognition of the critical role our nation's ports play and the increased federal support in TIGER II. The percentage of funding going to ports for TIGER II capital grants is more than twice as much as in the first round of TIGER grants and moves us closer to the 25 percent of overall TIGER grant funding we believe is appropriate."
Since the program's inception as part of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, AAPA has been a strong supporter of the TIGER multimodal discretionary grant program. However, in the first round of TIGER grant awards, port-related infrastructure projects received only 8 percent of the original $1.5 billion in funding, while other sectors, such as transit, highway and pedestrian/bicycle, received nearly 67 percent of the funds. Since port infrastructure investments are one of the four eligible areas (along with highways/bridges, transit, and freight/passenger rail) for the program, and other modes have received significant federal funds through other programs, AAPA urged that a minimum of 25 percent of the TIGER II funding be awarded to port-related infrastructure projects.
Awarded seaport-related projects included:
$22,767,000 to the Port of Miami to help establish intermodal container rail service at the port by building an intermodal yard, intermodal container rail transfer facility, and making necessary rail and bridge improvements.
$16,000,000 to the Port of Los Angeles to construct an intermodal railyard, which includes staging and storage tracks connecting on-dock railyards with the Alameda Corridor, as part of the port's West Basin Railyard project.
$13,573,133 to the Oregon International Port of Coos Bay to rehabilitate the track structure of the 133-mile Coos Bay Rail Link, which closed in 2007 as a result of deferred maintenance.
$13,000,000 to the Port at Cates Landing (Tenn.) to build a port and harbor facility on the Mississippi River to create a connection between barge traffic at the port and truck freight movement.
$10,500,000 to the Port of Providence (R.I.) to help replace old, dilapidated diesel cranes with new electric, barge-based cranes and to help fund installation of wind turbines and solar panels for electric generation.
$10,000,000 to the Port of Vancouver USA (Wash.) to help finish construction of a new rail access route to alleviate rail traffic congestion at the port.
$9,000,000 to Port Manatee (Fla.) to help construct a 32-acre container terminal and expand the port's cargo storage capacity for its Marine Highway (short sea shipping) operation and for other tenants.
Freight rail, which moves goods to and from our nation's ports and helps support America's international trade, was also well represented in the TIGER II grants. Many projects included grade separations, passenger/freight rail resolutions, rail line restoration and expansion investments and rail yard improvements. These ranged from a rail rehabilitation project in Northern Maine to improve the flow of forest products and other exports, to an endeavor in Northwest Nebraska to upgrade 7.5 miles of rail line to accommodate heavy rail cars required by regional aggregate and agricultural industries.
Founded in 1912, AAPA today represents 160 of the leading seaport authorities in the United States, Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean and more than 300 sustaining and associate members, firms and individuals with an interest in seaports. As a critical link for access to the global marketplace, each year, Western Hemisphere seaports generate trillions of dollars of economic activity, support the employment of millions of people and, in 2008, imported and exported more than 7.8 billion tons of cargo, valued at $8.6 trillion, including food, clothing, medicine, fuel and building materials, as well as consumer electronics and toys. The volume of cargo shipped by water is expected to dramatically increase by 2020 and the number of passengers traveling through our seaports will continue to grow. To meet these demands, the AAPA and its members are committed to keeping seaports navigable, secure and sustainable.