Container ports singled out in federal spending bill

FreightWaves |

By John Gallagher | February 19, 2019

The multibillion-dollar appropriations bill for fiscal 2019 signed into law by President Trump last week included first-time funding dedicated to port infrastructure, with the nation’s top 15 container ports receiving special treatment.

The spending bill, which funds seven cabinet departments through September 30 and thereby averted another government shutdown, provides nearly $300 million for coastal ports as part of a Port Infrastructure Grant Program, to be administered by the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD). It is considered the first such program dedicated specifically to seaports. Of that funding, $93 million is to be set aside specifically for funding improvements at the country’s top 15 container ports, ranked according to 2016 volume by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

While 40 percent less than the $1.5 billion in BUILD funds allocated for 2018, “it’s still significantly higher than what appropriators have typically given to the program,” Elaine Nessle, executive director of the Coalition for America’s Gateways & Trade Corridors, told FreightWaves. “Last year was a significant plus-up, which is why we’re seeing a little bit of decline.”

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