The following is the text of a news release from the U.S. Maritime Administration:
(CHARLESTON, S.C.) — U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx was joined by Vice President Joe Biden, Rep. Mark Sanders, R-S.C., and state and local officials today at the Wando Welch Terminal Project in Charleston to highlight how South Carolina’s investments in transportation have created jobs and new opportunities for the people in the region. The secretary’s visit is part of a four-day, five-state bus tour, the Grow America Express, highlighting the importance of investing in America’s infrastructure and to encourage Congress to act on a long-term transportation bill.
“The infrastructure we’re helping to build here at the Wando Welch Terminal means a safer, more efficient, and economically competitive facility,” said Foxx. “The ability to attract bigger ships to the Port of Charleston means more jobs and business throughout the entire region, but even more importantly, it allows our nation to be more competitive globally. We need more of these investments, not less.”
As the port’s largest terminal, Wando Welch handles about 63 percent of the cargo moving through the port. Although the terminal was designed to accommodate four vessels, it currently operates as a three-vessel facility due to the increasing size of containerships now arriving at the port. The $63 million project, funded in part by a $10.8 million federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant, will maximize the terminal usage by providing the structural repairs and upgrades needed to handle growing freight demands and accommodate the new generation of larger vessels that will call on the Port of Charleston.
“U.S. ports have long been reliable gateways for our consumer goods, and we must ensure that they have the infrastructure necessary to accommodate the new generation of larger container vessels carrying increasing volumes of import and export cargo,” said Maritime Administrator Chip Jaenichen.
On Feb. 2, the Obama administration announced a plan to address the infrastructure deficit with a $478 billion, six-year surface transportation reauthorization proposal building on the Grow America Act, which the administration first released last year. The plan makes critical investments in infrastructure needed to promote long-term economic growth, enhance safety and efficiency, and support jobs for the 21st century.
The need for these investments is clear. Earlier this month, U.S. DOT released a landmark study, “Beyond Traffic,” that looked at the trends and choices facing America’s transportation over the next three decades. These included a rapidly growing population, increasing freight volume, demographic shifts in rural and urban areas, and a transportation system that’s facing more frequent extreme weather events. A key takeaway of the study is that we need to keep investing in transportation for the sake of future generations, and the proposals included in Grow America would allow us to do just that.
The Grow America Express will include visits to universities, manufacturers, bridges, freight facilities, and highway projects in an effort to raise awareness of America’s infrastructure deficit. Foxx will visit with students, business leaders, transportation stakeholders, and community residents, to discuss the projects that work, projects that are needed, and to ask them to commit to standing up for a future with an American transportation system that is second to none.