Concern for future of port infrastructure grants

A US port association is “very concerned” over approval of a bill that cuts funding to a maritime programme and could slash port infrastructure grants.

The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) said the US Senate’s approval of a fiscal 2020 appropriations bill will cut funding by more than two-thirds to a US Department of Transportation Maritime Administration (MARAD) programme that provides critical grants for port infrastructure projects nationwide.

Chris Connor, AAPA’s president and CEO, said: “MARAD’s Port Infrastructure Development Program is the first and only federal grant program dedicated to our nation’s ports, and direct investment into port-related infrastructure is a top AAPA priority.”

He added: “Because ports are the center of trade and transportation, AAPA will continue to aggressively advocate that port-related infrastructure programs be a high priority in annual federal appropriations.”

Huge cut ahead

MARAD’s Port Infrastructure Development Program, initiated last year and funded at US$292.73 million, would be slashed to US$91.6m if the Senate’s appropriation mark is upheld in the final bill, noted AAPA.

Not only would funding for the program be severely cut, the Senate bill requires deep-draft coastal ports and shallow-draft inland waterways ports share those funds, which wasn’t the case last year, said AAPA. The organisation advocated that the programme be funded at a minimum of US$300m for deep-draft coastal ports.

AAPA said it will “fight hard” to achieve a higher funding level for the programme in the final Congressional negotiations for the bill. The House approved US$225m for the program in FY 2020.

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