Brownwater News, August 2019

Baltimore, Cleveland, Miami get $142 million in port grants

The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) learned at the end of July that the Department of Transportation forwarded to Congress three port-related projects — in Baltimore, Cleveland and Miami — that will receive a total of $142 million in grant funding under the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) program.

The three projects, among 20 to receive $900 million in INFRA grants, include $125 million for Baltimore’s Howard Street railroad tunnel to enable double-stacking of containers entering and leaving the port. A grant of $9 million went to Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River bulkhead project to replace dilapidated infrastructure and prevent a collapse of Franklin Hill along Irishtown Bend, and $8 million went to PortMiami (the new name for Port of Miami in Florida) for its Seaboard Marine Terminal rehabilitation and expansion. The PortMiami grant is Seaboard’s second. Last year it received $7 million for a new gate complex.

INFRA was established in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act of 2015 and is funded by the Highway Trust Fund.

For more information, contact Susan Monteverde at (703) 706-4703.

AAPA applauds bill to boost infrastructure funding

The American Association of Port Authorities commended the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee for introducing a $287 billion surface transportation authorization bill (S. 2302) on July 29 that the committee approved the following day.

Kurt Nagle, president and CEO of the ports association, said the legislation is “very promising” for America’s seaports. Many of the provisions in the bill relate to AAPA recommendations included in its FAST Act reauthorization platform.

The legislation is a five-year measure that will extend and amend aspects of the FAST Act of 2015. The new legislation (America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act of 2019) bill provides a 27 percent increase from the $226 billion authorized in the current law, which expires Sept. 31, 2020.

Nagle said the new measure raises funding from the current $6.3 billion over five years to $8.5 billion over five years. It also increases INFRA grant funding from $4.5 billion to $5.5 billion between 2021 and 2025, and raises the existing $500 million cap on multimodal projects to 30 percent of INFRA funding. Nagle said this would allow more of the merit-based grants to be used for freight and supply chain projects that benefit port infrastructure and operations.

Furthermore, Nagle said, the bill would increase eligibility of the Surface Transportation Block Grant Program to include rural barge landing, dock and waterfront infrastructure projects.

MarAd designates new Marine Highway projects

The U.S. Maritime Administration (MarAd) has designated eight new Marine Highway projects and a Marine Highway route that the agency said will benefit eight states and a U.S. territory.

Marine Highways are navigable waterways that can be used as options to traditional land-based shipping methods. MarAd said the new designated highways and route will benefit Connecticut, Florida, Michigan, New York, Oregon, Texas, Virginia, Washington state and American Samoa.

The designations make the projects and route eligible to apply for federal funding. Congress appropriated $7 million for America’s Marine Highway Program (AMHP), which authorizes the designation of Marine Highway routes and Marine Highway projects.

Among the newly designated projects is a container-on-barge service involving the Houston Gateway, and a proposal to connect the Port of New York to Connecticut by hauling truck trailers aboard barges to reduce congestion.

Ports concerned over threat of new tariffs

The nation’s port industry is “very concerned” over the renewed threat of increased tariffs in the U.S. trade war with China.

On Aug. 1, President Trump criticized the Chinese government for not living up to its trade promises and threatened to impose an additional 10 percent tariff on Sept. 1. Susan Monteverde, vice president of government relations for the American Association of Port Authorities, said the AAPA is “very concerned” about the president’s renewed threat and possible retaliation by China.

“Among the biggest ticket items on the tariffs list are multimillion-dollar, ship-to-shore gantry cranes used by American ports to load and unload containers from today’s giant cargo ships,” Monteverde said. “The president has the authority to de-list these cranes from the tariffs schedule, and we urge him to (do so).”

Kurt Nagle, president and CEO of the AAPA, said during Capitol Hill hearings that the group “fully supports the nationwide campaign against tariffs, called Tariffs Hurt the Heartland.” The campaign asserts that Americans have paid nearly $22 billion in additional tariffs since the trade the trade war began.

Funds still available for port infrastructure projects

There’s still time — until Sept. 22 — to apply to the Department of Transportation for federal funding for projects designed to improve the nation’s maritime systems and gateway ports.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2019 made available $292.7 million for the 2-month-old Port Infrastructure Development Program, including $92.7 million for the 15 seaports that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said handled “the greatest number of loaded foreign and domestic TEUs of containerized cargo in 2016.” The minimum award size is $10 million, with a federal cost share not to exceed 80 percent. Details and registration information regarding related DOT webinars is available at

NWC names lead speakers for annual meeting

Confirmed speakers scheduled to address the annual meeting of the National Waterways Conference (NWC) in Memphis, Tenn., on Sept. 17-19 include R.D. James, assistant secretary of the Army for Civil Works, and Maj. Gen. Mark Toy, incoming commander of the Mississippi Valley Division of the Army Corps of Engineers.

Joining James and Toy will be Edward Belk, chief of Civil Works Programs Integration, and Thomas Smith, chief of operations and the Regulatory Division at Army Corps headquarters.

Harbor tour to open AAPA’s convention in Norfolk

The American Association of Port Authorities will open its 108th annual convention and expo with a harbor tour on Oct. 14 in Norfolk, Va. The closing reception is set for Oct. 16.

The tour will provide views of Port of Virginia marine terminals, the Naval Shipyard, coal piers and the future Craney Island Marine Terminal.

For more information, email Aaron Ellis at

By Professional Mariner Staff