Spending bill passes with $293 million for port infrastructure

The following is text of a news release from the American Great Lakes Ports Association:

(WASHINGTON) — On Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate passed an omnibus appropriations bill finalizing spending for FY 2019 — four and a half months after the beginning of the federal fiscal year. The legislation includes funding for scores of federal agencies and programs, including the Departments of Homeland Security, Interior, Transportation, Agriculture, Justice, Commerce, Treasury, and State.

Among key provisions of interest to Great Lakes ports are a new federal grant program specifically for port infrastructure. The legislation includes $293 million for the Maritime Administration's Port Infrastructure Development Program. This federal grant program was created by Congress in 2010, but never subsequently funded (until now). While $93 million of the total is earmarked for large coastal container ports — and unavailable to Great Lakes ports — the remaining $200 million provides a robust infusion of badly needed investment in the nation's port infrastructure. Program funds may be used for a wide range of port development needs and are to be cost shared with local public agency sponsors at a ratio of 80 percent federal / 20 percent non-federal.

The omnibus appropriations bill also includes the final budget for the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. (SLSDC). The agreement includes $36 million for the U.S. Seaway, with no less than $16 million for the agency's Asset Renewal Program, which seeks to rehabilitate and modernize the Eisenhower and Snell locks, as well as other agency assets.

By Professional Mariner Staff