AAPA Highlights Importance of Investing in U.S. Seaports
The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) is concerned over the potential of significant declines for most federally funded, port-related programs in President Trump’s fiscal 2018 budget, the association said in its latest release.
“We’re apprehensive about the fiscal 2018 budget. Adequate federal investments into U.S. port-related infrastructure, both on the landside and waterside, are crucial for the efficient movement of goods so the nation can remain globally competitive,” said Kurt Nagle, AAPA president and CEO.
“Activities at U.S. seaports account for more than a quarter of the nation’s economy, support over 23 million American jobs and generate more than $320 billion a year in federal, state and local tax revenue. It’s vital the federal government uphold its end of the partnership with ports so the country can have a 21st century goods movement system in place.”
Proposed for the budget chopping block is the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants program, which last year awarded U.S. ports $61.8 million in multimodal infrastructure grants such as dock, rail and road improvements.
While the president’s proposed budget calls for increasing the overall U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) budget by $400 million over the previous administration’s request of $4.6 billion, the request still represents a 16 percent decrease in their budget when compared to the Continuing Resolution fiscal 2017 level, AAPA said.
Details for the Corps’ Coastal Navigation portion of the budget are not yet known, but are expected to be available in May.
AAPA’s key recommendations for the fiscal 2018 budget:
- Provide $2.9 billion for the Corps’ Navigation program, including $1.6 billion for the Coastal Navigation portion that covers deep-draft investigations, construction, operations and maintenance, and donor and energy transfer port activities;
- Expand USDOT’s TIGER program, or create a new, multimodal discretionary grant program like it, and fund it at $1.25 billion annually;
- Continue funding USDOT’s FAST Act programs at currently authorized levels, which includes formula funds to states and FAST Lane grants for nationally and regionally significant transportation projects. Furthermore, expand the amount of funds available for multimodal projects which is currently limited to $500 million a year through 2020;
- Increase funding to $400 million for the Department of Homeland Security’s Port Security Grant Program and increase the number of CBP officers in the maritime environment by 500;
- Fund DERA grants at the $100 million authorized level.