The Trade Corridor Bulletin

Volume 14 – No. 5 | July 2020

National Freight Leaders from Across the Country Elected to CAGTC Board

The Coalition for America's Gateways and Trade Corridors (CAGTC) elected two new Board members and re-elected four Board of Directors seats in May. Each will serve a three-year term.

Newly-elected Coalition Board members include:

  • Pierce Homer, Transportation Director and Senior Vice President, Moffatt & Nichol
  • Dan Pallme, Assistant Chief of Freight and Logistics, Tennessee Department of Transportation

Re-elected to the CAGTC Board are:

  • Kerry Cartwright, Director of Goods Movement, Port of Los Angeles
  • John Greuling, President & CEO, Will County Center for Economic Development
  • Bob Ledoux, Senior Vice President, General Counsel & Corporate Secretary, Florida East Coast Railway
  • Ryan McFarland, Federal Government Relations Manager, Northwest Seaport Alliance

“The CAGTC Board of Directors serves an important role, guiding the organization’s policy and mission,” said Paul Hubler, CAGTC Chairman and Director of Government & Community Relations for the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments and Alameda Corridor-East Project. “Our Board is both organizationally and geographically diverse, rich in expertise from across the goods movement spectrum. The unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic have cast in a new light the reliance of our nation on a safe, efficient and cost-effective freight network. I look forward to working with CAGTC’s Board and engaged membership as we continue championing increased federal investment in our nation’s supply chain infrastructure. Robust investment in our national freight network will go far in supporting immediate recovery and long-term economic growth."

Read CAGTC's full release here.

CAGTC’s Southern California Members hosted the CAGTC Board and Congressional staff for freight facility tours earlier this year. Pictured: Visiting Pacific Harbor Line in Long Beach, California on February 20, 2020.

USDOT Awards $906 Million in INFRA Grants, CAGTC Members Receive 20 Percent of Funds

On June 18, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced 20 projects in 20 states to receive funds through the fiscal year (FY) 2020 Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) program. Through the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, Congress created the INFRA program to improve freight mobility and provide funding for large-scale freight infrastructure projects. This year's round of INFRA awarded $906 million in federal funding, with CAGTC members receiving an impressive 20 percent of available funds. Additionally, four multimodal projects received $112 million in funding. USDOT reviewed 173 eligible applications from 47 states requesting $7.4 billion in INFRA grants — more than eight times the amount available.

Port Tampa Bay Container Berth 214 and Cargo Yard

The project will improve capacity at Port Tampa Bay’s Hooker’s Point container facility to accommodate an additional 150,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) annually. The project will also construct Berth 214 and an adjacent yard, and includes a gantry crane rail extension, dredging along the dock to enable berthing of post-Panamax vessels, utility and stormwater improvements, and a new container gate.

Puget Sound Gateway Program

The project will complete 12 miles of highway projects in the Puget Sound region, including the SR 509 completion project, the SR 167 completion project, improvements to I-5, and improved connectivity to I-90. The SR 167 project will construct the remaining four miles of SR 167 between I-5 and its current terminus at SR 161, as well as a new two-mile connection from I-5 to the Port of Tacoma, with three new interchanges at 54th Avenue, Valley Avenue, and SR 161. The SR 509 project will extend SR 509 for two miles from S. 188th Street to I-5, construct a new interchange at 24th Avenue South, and improve four miles of I-5.

Barbours Cut Restoration and Upgrade Project

The project will restore and strengthen approximately 2,700 linear feet of wharf and upgrade approximately 84 acres of yard space at the Barbours Cut Container Terminal. The project builds on other investments being made to expand the capacity and enhance the efficiency of the terminal, including rehabilitation of the north side container yards, rehabilitation of wharf three, and expansion of the truck gate to add 15 lanes and renovate the existing 14 lanes with new technology to speed through-put.

I-40 Smart Fiber: Memphis to Nashville

The project will install approximately 143 miles of fiber optic communications and deploy ITS devices on I-40 between Memphis and Nashville. The ITS devices include CCTV Cameras, dynamic message signs, road weather sensors, and connected vehicle roadside units.

Summer Heats Up Surface Transportation Reauthorization

On July 1, the Moving Forward Act passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 233 to 188, mostly along party lines. The centerpiece of the $1.5 trillion proposal, introduced in early June by Chairman DeFazio (D-OR), focuses on a variety of infrastructure measures including the soon-to-expire surface transportation authorization. House Democrats drafted the five-year infrastructure bill which provides $494 billion in federal highway, transit and rail funding. Ranking Member Graves (R-MO) introduced the Surface Transportation Advanced through Reform, Technology, & Efficient Review (STARTER) Act as Republican committee members’ alternative, which failed during the markup.

The Moving Forward Act reauthorizes federal programs supporting freight mobility, granting a one-year extension for the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) program. Beginning in fiscal year 2022, the U.S. Department of Transportation would implement the Projects of National and Regional Significance (PNRS) program to fund freight and transit megaprojects. Unlike the INFRA program, the PNRS program does not have a limit on the amount of funding that can be invested in non-highway projects that improve the movement of freight and people. The proposal also eliminates the cap on non-highway investment under the National Highway Freight Program, which is delivered via formula to each state. Rail projects also stand to receive increased funding through the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure Safety Improvements (CRISI) grant program.

The Moving Forward Act also adopts the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) budget exclusion language from the CARES Act, which eliminates the HMTF appropriations for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers harbor operation and maintenance from the Budget Control Act spending caps. In addition, the legislation codifies that provision into House Budget law with all the other spending cap exclusions and authorizes it to take effect for the FY21 appropriations process.

To balance discrepancies between spending and Highway Trust Fund receipts, the Moving Forward Act requires a $145 billion transfer from the General Fund.

The current surface transportation authorization law, the 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, expires on September 30, 2020. Several obstacles remain before Congress can finalize the multi-year, cohesive reauthorization.

While the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) last summer approved their $294 billion highway funding bill, the other committees of jurisdiction (Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs; Commerce, Science and Transportation; and Finance) have not produced proposals. Moreover, funding offsets have not yet been identified to bridge the gap between Highway Trust Fund Receipts and proposed spending levels in both the Moving Forward Act and the Senate EPW’s America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act.

On top of these challenges, Congress and the White House are focused on the 2020 elections as well as mitigating the health and economic impacts of COVID-19. With about four weeks in session before the FAST Act expires, it is clear Congress will need to act quickly to extend the FAST Act or pass a new authorization package.

House FY21 THUD Bill Wrapped Into Minibus Package on the Floor

On July 28, the House Rules Committee approved its procedure for Floor consideration of the House’s fiscal year (FY) 2021 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations bill. The legislation was incorporated into a minibus along with five other appropriations bills providing funding for Defense, Commerce, Justice, Science, Energy and Water Development, Financial Services and General Government, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education.

The House will consider a total of 340 amendments to the package, 19 of which pertain to the bill’s transportation provisions. Though several amendments proposing changes to infrastructure grant funding were initially submitted, none of the amendments ultimately allowed by the Rules Committee are particularly relevant to the bill’s freight provisions. The House is expected to take its final vote on the minibus on July 31.

Earlier in July, the House Appropriations Committee approved the FY21 THUD funding bill along party lines by a vote of 30 to 22. The bill provides $233 billion in total budgetary resources, allocating $107.2 billion for the US Department of Transportation (USDOT), a $21.1 billion increase in USDOT funding compared to last year’s levels.

While the legislation maintains the same funding for the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) program as last year, it would increase funding set-asides for planning grants from $15 million to $20 million and exempt port infrastructure projects from the maximum amount of funds granted to a single state. The bill provides $500 million for the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) Program, of which $60 million would be reserved for grade crossing improvements. The Maritime Administration’s Port Infrastructure Development Program (PIDP) would see a $75 million increase over last year, totaling $300 million in FY21 appropriations.

The bill designates $25 billion in emergency appropriations for USDOT, however, these provisions will require Presidential approval and a 60-vote majority in the Senate. Emergency designations for USDOT include an additional $3 billion for BUILD, $5 billion for CRISI, and $1 billion for the PIDP. Congressman Perry (R-PA) proposed an amendment that would strike all these emergency appropriations from the bill. While the amendment was made “in order” by the Rules Committee and therefore will be considered on the House Floor, it is unlikely to gain approval from the Democratic majority.

As of now, the Senate has not yet introduced any FY21 appropriations bills of their own. A final package or extension must be passed in both chambers by September 30 to prevent a government shutdown.

Industry News

DeFazio Legislation to Provide Relief to Maritime Sector Passes Through House

On June 21, the Maritime Transportation System Emergency Relief Act (MTSERA), introduced by Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and the Elijah E. Cummings Mariner Workforce Development Act introduced by Chair of the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) as well as two other provisions relating to and supporting the maritime industry passed through the House as part of a DeFazio Amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The provisions are designed to provide relief to those in the maritime industry during a national emergency, to increase training opportunities for merchant mariners, to authorize a new competitive grant program for projects at smaller ports and terminals, and to establish a National Shipper Advisory Committee to give U.S. importers and exporters a formal process to interact with the Federal Maritime Commission.

“I am thankful to my House colleagues for stepping up today for the maritime industry,” said Chair DeFazio. “The Maritime Transportation System Emergency Relief Act would for the first time authorize the Maritime Administration to provide financial assistance to stabilize and ensure the reliable functioning of the U.S. Maritime Transportation System in the event of a national emergency or disaster, including, the current COVID-19 public health emergency. The hard-working men and women of the maritime industry have kept critical goods moving during the global pandemic, and for that our thanks are not enough. This bill gives them the same protections and relief given to other industries during COVID-19.”

Read the full release here.

Industry News

Trump Administration Issues Final Rule on NEPA Overhaul

Courtesy of White House Twitter

Speaking at a UPS facility in Atlanta on July 15, President Trump announced a “top-to-bottom overhaul” of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). He cited the project approval process as the largest impediment to modernizing the country’s infrastructure network. The overhaul is detailed in the Administration’s 73-page Final Rule that “comprehensively updates, modernizes, and clarifies the regulations to facilitate more efficient, effective, and timely NEPA reviews by Federal agencies...”

NEPA was signed into law by President Richard Nixon and became effective January 1, 1970. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “NEPA's basic policy is to assure that all branches of government give proper consideration to the environment prior to undertaking any major federal action that significantly affects the environment.”

The Administration received 1.1 million comments from a diverse range of stakeholders in response to the 2018 Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, January 2020 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, and various stakeholder listening sessions.

A fact sheet produced by the White House states that the rule will:

  • “[modernize] Federal NEPA regulations, including by codifying certain court decisions to clarify NEPA’s application and by expanding public involvement in NEPA reviews through the use of modern technology;” and
  • “[improve] management by incorporating President Trump’s One Federal Decision policy, establishing time limits of two years for completion of environmental impact statements, when required, and one year for completion of environmental assessments.”

Because the Office of Management and Budget has determined that this rulemaking is a “major rule,” it is subject to Congressional Review. Therefore, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) will submit to Congress and the Government Accountability Office a report that includes the Final Rule. While the Final Rule lists a September 14, 2020 effective date, Congress may delay or terminate the rule.

Congressional reactions to the Final Rule have been split. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) condemned the Final Rule as jeopardizing transparency and the environment and said that it distracts from the true cause of infrastructure delay: funding. The Committee’s Ranking Member, Sam Graves (R-MO), commended the Administration for “its efforts to modernize the decades-old NEPA process.”

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-DE), who testified before the CEQ in opposition to the proposal in February, said the rule “is sure to sow chaos and confusion for the foreseeable future, inviting litigation that will ultimately slow project delivery across the country.” EPW Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY) applauded the Final Rule, stating “President Trump is cutting red tape to help get our economy back in the black.”

Read the Final Rule here.

Read the Fact Sheet here.

Read the President’s July 15 comments here.

Industry News

Senator Merkley Introduces the Climate Smart Ports Act of 2020

Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley is leading four of his colleagues in introducing the Climate Smart Ports Act of 2020 — legislation to create a $1 billion per year federal program dedicated to improving sustainability measures throughout America’s ports. The legislation has also been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragn (D-CA-44).

The bill would assist ports and port users by replacing cargo handling equipment, port harbor craft, cargo delivery trucks, and more with zero emissions equipment and technology. The bill would also help ports develop onsite clean energy microgrids to power their facilities and equipment, and authorizes an additional $50 million per year for the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) to be spent specifically on reducing port emissions.

The introduction comes amid projections that greenhouse gas pollution from ocean vessels at sea, as well as mobile sources at ports, are on the rise. The Climate Smart Ports Act of 2020 would help reduce those emissions by helping ports overcome upfront costs of truck, cargo equipment and train upgrades, and will create new, good-paying jobs in the process. Specifically, the bill will require payment of a local prevailing wage for work performed with federal funds, encourage project labor agreements and local hiring, give preference to equipment produced in the United States, and includes language protecting dock workers from automation.

Read the full release here.

Member News

USDOT Announces $500 Million Loan for Port of Long Beach

Courtesy of the Port of Long Beach

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao announced on May 4 that the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Build America Bureau will provide a loan of $500 million under the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) to the City of Long Beach, California, acting through its Board of Harbor Commissioners (the Port of Long Beach).

“This $500 million federal investment reflects the President’s continued emphasis on infrastructure that will reduce traffic congestion while enhancing the Port of Long Beach’s ability to handle large container ships to support economic growth in the region and the country,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

The loan will help finance construction of the Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement Project, which is located at the Port of Long Beach at the southern end of State Route 710 in Los Angeles County.  It is the primary link between the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, the two largest container ports in the United States, and the warehouses and rail yards north of the ports.  It is also the primary connection between the communities of San Pedro and Long Beach, and connects residents to major employment centers.

Read USDOT's full release here.

Member News

Broward County Selects Jonathan Daniels to Lead Port Everglades

Courtesy of Broward County's Port Everglades

Following a national search, Broward County Administrator Bertha Henry announced that seaport and economic development leader Jonathan Daniels will be the new Chief Executive & Port Director at Port Everglades. Broward’s diverse seaport is a global gateway for cargo, cruise and petroleum that is undergoing a $1.6 billion port expansion effort.

Daniels comes to Port Everglades from the Port of Gulfport, Mississippi where he has been the executive director since 2013.

“Port Everglades is a dynamic economic engine for Broward County that will benefit from Jonathan’s business and economic development expertise,” Henry said. “The search for a director who could lead our seaport into the future was exhaustive, and I am confident that we made the right choice, as demonstrated by the Commission's confirmation of his appointment.”

"I am honored to have been selected. I look forward to working with the Board of County Commissioners, the County Administrator, the hard-working and dedicated employees of Port Everglades and its diverse business clientele," said Daniels.

In addition to his maritime experience in Gulfport, where he led a $570 million restoration and expansion project, Daniels also served as the Executive Director of the Port of Oswego in New York from 2007-2013, managing director of the Port of Greater Baton Rouge and Port Director for the Eastport Port Authority in Maine.

Read the full release here.

Research News

COVID-19’s Impacts on America’s Infrastructure

American Society of Civil Engineers

June 2020

Infrastructure is the foundation that connects U.S. businesses and enables communities to thrive. Our roads, water systems, energy grid and more help drive the economy, support our quality of life and ensure public health and safety. Unfortunately, we have been underinvesting in our infrastructure for decades. In 2019, the U.S. spent just 2.5% of our GDP on infrastructure, down from 4.2% in the 1930s. From 2016 to 2025, we’ll underinvest in our infrastructure by $2 trillion, according to the 2017 ASCE Infrastructure Report Card.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has made a difficult situation worse. A sizable portion of our existing infrastructure systems are supported with user-generated revenue streams. With the onset of the pandemic, commercial water use is down, commuters are staying off the roads and away from transit, and airports are virtually empty. Meanwhile, municipal and state budgets are buckling under unprecedented demands, meaning less support is available for parks, schools, and other publicly-owned infrastructure, precisely at the time we should be investing.

Congress should make infrastructure investment a centerpiece of its immediate response and long-term economic recovery strategy. Now is the time to renew, modernize, and invest in our infrastructure to maintain our international competitiveness.

Read the full report here.

Research News

US freight after COVID-19: A bumpy road to the next normal

McKinsey & Company

July 29, 2020

The US freight and logistics industry has coped well with the short-term disruptions created by the pandemic. Now, these companies are also pondering what the future holds for them, through the crisis and into the next normal. Our earlier research on intra-US freight (road, rail, and water) identified a long-running secular trend: the decline of what we call freight intensity (the ratio of freight tonnage to GDP). Freight intensity has been steadily falling since 1990 but stabilized after the great recession of 2009. Simply put, the economy has been shifting away from heavy industry and other goods that require transport toward lighter manufacturing and services.

Read the full report here.