In this issue:
The Trade Corridor Bulletin
Volume 17 – No. 4 | July 2023
FY24 USDOT Funding Bills Clear House and Senate Appropriations Committees
Senate bill maintains funding for key grant programs while House proposes significant cuts
By: CAGTC Staff
Both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees approved their fiscal year (FY) 2024 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations bills. Due to the House and Senate advancing differing proposals, legislators must resolve the differences to approve a final bill by the October 1 deadline to prevent a government shutdown.
This year’s appropriations process has been closely tied to the negotiations to suspend the debt ceiling until January 2025, which resulted in the enactment of the Fiscal Responsibility Act on June 3. The Fiscal Responsibility Act set a $1.59 trillion cap on base discretionary funding, allocating $886.3 billion to defense spending and $703.7 billion to non-defense spending. The Senate Committee allocated and approved $88.1 billion for its THUD bill, an $800 million increase from the amount enacted for FY23. Meanwhile, the House Committee allocated and approved $65.2 billion for its THUD bill, which is $22.1 billion less than the amount enacted for FY23.
Senate FY24 THUD Proposal
On July 20, the Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously approved its THUD proposal, which would provide the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) with $28.4 billion in discretionary funding, $300 million less than the amount enacted for FY23. The Senate did not drastically reduce funding for any of the major grant programs, providing them with either a slight increase or the same level of funding in FY23. Under the Senate proposal, the grant programs would receive FY24 annual appropriations funding in addition to the FY24 funds provided to these programs by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL).
- Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity Program (RAISE): $800 million in FY24 funds in addition to the $1.5 billion provided by the BIL, totaling $2.3 billion.
- Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements Program (CRISI): $572.8 million in FY24 funds in addition to the $1 billion made available by the BIL, totaling $1.572 billion.
- Port Infrastructure Development Program (PIDP): $213 million in FY24 funds in addition to the $450 million provided by the BIL for FY24, totaling $663 million.
The Senate proposal also includes nearly $1 billion for earmarked projects, including $700 million in highway infrastructure program funding and $73 million in CRISI funding. The list of designated projects can be found here. The Office of Multimodal Freight Infrastructure and Policy would receive $2 million for salaries and expenses under the Senate proposal. Like last year, the Senate did not provide additional funding for the Nationally Significant Multimodal Freight & Highway Projects (INFRA) and Mega grant programs; however, they will still receive FY24 funding from the BIL.
Accompanying the legislation is the Senate Appropriations Committee’s annual report, which provides guidance on the proposed funding provisions. When considering applications for the Mega grant program, the report encouraged USDOT to consider applications supporting the development of coastal and inland ports that would improve the supply chain. Additionally, the committee expressed concern that USDOT has not shared an update on the status of the Office of Multimodal Freight Infrastructure and Policy as required by the BIL.
House FY24 THUD Proposal
The House Committee on Appropriations approved its THUD proposal by a 34-27 vote on July 18. Under the House proposal, USDOT would receive $21.6 billion in discretionary funding, $7.1 billion less than the amount enacted for FY23. The House did not provide any additional funding for the RAISE, INFRA, or Mega grant programs. However, the House bill includes $258 million in annual appropriations funding for FY24 CRISI grants, in addition to the $1 billion made available by the BIL. House appropriators provided $7.3 million for the Office of Multimodal Freight Infrastructure and Policy.
The House proposal also includes approximately $1.8 billion for transportation projects in Community Project Funding, including roughly $1.2 billion in highway infrastructure program funding, $29 million in CRISI funding, and $70 million in PIDP funding. The list of designated projects can be found here, though some changes were made during the full committee markup on July 18.
The bill text can be found here.
Key Differences & Next Steps
Overall, the Senate bill provides higher levels of total discretionary funding for USDOT, and consequently, higher amounts for several key individual grant programs, including RAISE, PIDP, and CRISI. However, the House bill included $5.3 million more for the Office of Multimodal Freight Infrastructure and Policy to further its efforts under the Freight Logistics Optimization Works (FLOW) program by launching a nationwide dashboard to track real-time supply chain movements.
Additional negotiations will be necessary to resolve these differences and develop a final package that can advance through both chambers. Given that Congress is set to enter its August recess, there will be few developments until legislators are back in session.
Ports America Chesapeake Hosts CAGTC Staff for Terminal Tour
By: CAGTC Staff
This month, CAGTC staff had the opportunity to tour the Seagirt and Dundalk Marine Terminals operated by Ports America Chesapeake at the Port of Baltimore. The tour was wonderfully organized by Tom Saunders, who sits on the CAGTC Board of Directors, and was a great opportunity to learn about the significance of efficient operations at these terminals.
Seagirt Marine Terminal achieves high levels of productivity and efficiency to accommodate the larger vessels and volumes arriving at the Port of Baltimore. The Dundalk Marine Terminal is the most versatile general cargo facility at the Port with 13 berths, 4 container cranes, and direct rail access. The day was complete with an overview of the port's operations and learning about the high volumes of automobiles, farm equipment, and other types of roll-on/roll-off equipment moved in the terminal.
Port Canaveral reached a historic milestone with the inaugural arrival of the Saga Welco vessel, Saga Morus, the first ship to dock and unload at the Port’s newly-renovated North Cargo Berth 3 (NCB3). The Saga Morus, carrying approximately 11,000 cubic meters of high-quality OSB plywood from Latvia, equivalent to 4,189 bundles for Kronospan USA, a renowned wood-based panels manufacturer based in Alabama. The vessel measures over 650 feet long, 160 feet high, and 105 feet wide.
"We are excited to mark the operational launch of the reconstructed North Cargo Berth 3," stated Capt. John Murray, Port Canaveral CEO. "This is the beginning of a new era for our port, broadening the foundation for continued growth of our cargo operations and fostering future business opportunities."
Under the agreed terms with Kronospan, ASI will receive an annual supply of 64,000 cubic meters, with six ship arrivals expected each year. The OSB plywood shipments will primarily serve locations in central and southern Florida, while some deliveries will reach destinations in northern Florida and beyond state lines.
Read the full release here.
Leaders celebrate projects to improve transportation, goods movement at the Port of Oakland
On July 24, the Alameda County Transportation Commission (Alameda CTC), Port of Oakland, and City of Oakland announced important milestones for two major transportation improvement projects at the Port of Oakland.
The two projects celebrated include:
- A Ribbon Cutting for the Freight Intelligent Transportation Systems (FITS) Project: Installation of state of the art technology to more efficiently manage truck arrivals and goods movement, improve safety and incident response, and reduce vehicle wait times and emissions; and
- The Groundbreaking for the 7th Street Grade Separation East Segment (7SGSE) Project: Improvements to a primary gateway to the Port of Oakland, including roadway reconfiguration and reconstruction; upgrading the current bike and pedestrian pathway to meet today’s ADA and design standards and connect with the waterfront; and a project “green element” with of live plants on the pathway wall at the community’s request.
The FITS project is deploying 15 advanced and innovative demonstration technologies to improve the efficiency, safety, operations, circulation and reliability of truck and rail access throughout the Port of Oakland and reduce the impact of cargo trucks on the West Oakland community. FITS technology innovations include the availability of real-time traveler information for truck drivers and other goods movement providers on their mobile devices, giving drivers predictability and the ability to better plan their Port visits.
The 7SGSE project improvements include reconstructing the more than 90-year old underpass that serves as the primary gateway for forty percent of trucks entering the Port and that Union Pacific Railroad trains rely on to pass over 7th Street. These improvements will relieve truck and vehicle congestion, increase safety and provide flexibility for seaport cargo operations. The Project also includes a shared bicycle/pedestrian pathway for public access to the Middle Harbor Shoreline Park and will increase efficiency, foster sustainability and support the entire Northern California economy.
Read the full release here.
Driving Change: Advice for the National VMT-Fee Pilot
The Eno Center for Transportation released a new report outlining best practices for USDOT's vehicle-miles traveled pilot program that was mandated by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Read the full report here.