The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA)—the unified and recognized voice of seaports in the Americas—today is lauding the announcement by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) that it has awarded $220 million in discretionary grant funding to improve port facilities in 16 states and territories through MARAD’s FY 2020 Port Infrastructure Development Program (PIDP).
“AAPA and our member U.S. ports are extremely appreciative and grateful to MARAD and Congress for ensuring continued investment in our nation’s multimodal port infrastructure through the Port Infrastructure Development Program,” said Christopher J. Connor, AAPA’s president and CEO. “These awards represent a significant step toward investing in one of our country’s most precious and important assets … our seaports.”
The PIDP supports efforts by U.S. ports and industry stakeholders to improve facility and freight infrastructure to ensure the country’s freight transportation needs are met, both present and future. The program provides planning, operational and capital financing, and project management assistance to improve the capacity and efficiency of America’s commercial ports.
Mr. Connor noted that, in July, the House Appropriations Committee released its draft FY2021 Transportation-Housing and Urban Development (THUD) funding bill. That legislation, for which he stressed AAPA’s strong support, includes $1.3 billion in total next year for the PIDP to invest in America’s ports and spur the national economy.
“Should it be appropriated, the $1.3 billion in the FY’21 THUD bill for the Port Infrastructure Development Program more closely resembles the current unmet infrastructure needs of America’s ports, based on the large number of PIDP grant requests this year that went unfunded,” said Mr. Connor.
For today’s announcement, Mr. Connor also thanked House THUD Chair and Ranking Member David Price and Mario Diaz-Balart (respectively) and Senate THUD Chair and Ranking Member Susan Collins and Jack Reed (respectively) for appropriating funds for the FY’20 PIDP grants. He also called out House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman and Ranking Member Peter DeFazio and Sam Graves (respectively), and Senate Commerce Committee Chairman and Ranking Member Roger Wicker and Maria Cantwell (respectively) for their continued support of the PIDP program.
America’s seaports are at the center of America’s trade and transportation systems. International trade through seaports accounts for over a quarter of the U.S. GDP, and seaports handle approximately $6 billion worth of import and export goods daily, supporting nearly 31 million jobs, and providing more than $378 billion annually in federal, state and local tax revenues. In a non-pandemic environment, seaports also contribute significantly to our nation’s tourism industry, with cruise port activities and passenger spending having generated an estimated $53 billion in 2018 in U.S. economic impacts.