On the heels of the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the Biden administration Tuesday announced a Port Action Plan.
Thie plan is a set of concrete steps to accelerate investment in U.S. ports, waterways, and freight networks, the Department of Transportation said. These goals and timelines will mobilize federal agencies and lay the foundation for successful implementation of the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal, the DOT said.
This plan will increase federal flexibilities for port grants; accelerate port infrastructure grant awards; announce new construction projects for coastal navigation, inland waterways, and land ports of entry; and launch the first round of expanded port infrastructure grants funded through the infrastructure deal.
Ports represent a critical link in the U.S. economy and economic competitiveness. An investment in ports and waterways will result in direct benefits for the U.S. people by relieving supply chain congestion, creating good-paying jobs and strengthening long-term supply chain resiliency, the DOT said. The infrastructure deal invests $17 billion into modernizing infrastructure at ports and waterways, making it the largest federal investment in ports in U.S. history.
The below immediate actions were announced Tuesday:
- Support creative solutions to current supply chain disruptions by allowing for flexibility in port grants. The DOT will allow port authorities to redirect project cost savings toward tackling supply chain challenges.
- Alleviate congestion at the Port of Savannah by funding the Georgia Ports Authority pop-up container yards project. With this policy change, the Georgia Ports Authority will be able to reallocate more than $8 million to convert existing inland facilities into five pop-up container yards in both Georgia and North Carolina. Under the plan, the Port of Savannah will transfer containers via rail and truck further inland so that they can be closer to their final destination, which will make available valuable real estate closer to the port. The effort will free up more dock space and speed goods flow in and out of the Port of Savannah, which leads the nation in containerized agricultural exports.
Other near-term actions:
- Launch programs to modernize ports and marine highways with more than $240 million in grant funding within the next 45 days. The Port Infrastructure Development Grant program is the first and only federal grant program wholly dedicated to investments in port infrastructure. DOT will award $230 million in funding for this program and $13 million for the Marine Highway Program to support waterborne freight service.
- Identify projects for Army Corps of Engineers construction at coastal ports and inland waterways within the next 60 days. This plan will provide a roadmap for more than $4 billion in funding to repair outdated infrastructure and to deepen harbors for larger cargo ships.
- Prioritize key ports of entry for modernization and expansion within the next 90 days. This plan will identify $3.4 billion in investments to upgrade obsolete inspection facilities and allow more efficient international trade through the northern and southern borders.
- Open competition for the first round of port infrastructure grants funded through the bipartisan infrastructure deal within 90 days. DOT will announce more than $475 million in additional funding for port and marine highway infrastructure.