Source: Maritime Executive
September 15th 2016
The U.S. Senate passed the S.2848, the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2016 by a vote of 95 to 3 on Thursday.
The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) welcomed the progress, as the bill maintains many AAPA requests, including modernizing the cost-share formula for channel deepening projects, from 45 feet to 50 feet, which hasn’t been updated in 30 years, even though there have been seven generations of container ships deployed during this period (with ship sizes increasing from 3,000 to 18,000 twenty-foot equivalent units, or TEUs). Modernizing the channel deepening cost-share formula would make it similar to the maintenance cost-share formula.
The Senate bill also addresses an AAPA request to extend the authorization to provide funds to Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund donors and energy transfer ports, which Nagle cited as “an important equity issue.”
Additionally, it includes revisions to streamline and expedite existing projects, as well as authorize eight new navigation developments.
AAPA President and CEO Kurt Nagle said: “Americans needs this crucial legislation to pass in order to fortify our freight transportation infrastructure, create good-paying U.S. jobs, grow our economy and enhance our international competitiveness.”
Nagle noted that Congress passed the last water resources reauthorization bill in 2014 after a seven-year hiatus. Passing it again this year would put it back, as intended, on an every-two-year cycle, which hasn’t happened since 2000.
“More than a quarter of America’s economy is based on the value of goods that transit in and out of our ports. In order to keep our economic recovery progressing, we must ensure these goods can move efficiently, without avoidable and costly delays caused by inadequate or poorly maintained infrastructure,” he said.
Nagle says: “America’s public ports – which create jobs for more than 23 million U.S. residents and handle 99 percent of our nation’s overseas trade – together with their private-sector partners are investing about $31 billion annually in marine terminal infrastructure. We look forward to the House soon passing its version of WRDA, with a final bill to result in the federal government upholding its end of this partnership by authorizing badly needed investments to waterside connections with seaports.”