Trade Corridor Bulletin Vol. 17 No. 1

The Trade Corridor Bulletin

Volume 17 – No. 1 | November 2022

Midterms Shake Up Capitol Hill Control

By: CAGTC Staff

Pre-election polling once again fell short and while the midterm election was predicted to be a decisive victory for House Republicans, it took more than a week to determine which party would control the lower chamber in the 118th Congress.  With a handful of seats uncalled, it is likely that House Republicans will have the thinnest governing majority in 90 years. While the Democrats clinched the Senate, we are experiencing déjà vu with a Georgia runoff election. There is much to digest and unfold as leaders from both parties will face unique challenges governing with narrow majorities and divided parties.

Senate Updates

With the current Senate election outcomes indicating a 50-49 majority for the Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s party will remain in power regardless of the Georgia runoff election result. Even if Republicans win the Senate seat in Georgia and bring the Senate balance to 50-50, Vice President Harris will act as a tiebreaker.

Despite Democrats maintaining the Senate majority, the 118th Congress will bring committee leadership changes. Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS), the current Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, is likely to replace retiring Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) as Ranking Member of the Armed Services Committee. Therefore, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) will likely become the committee’s ranking member, while Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) will remain the committee chair.

Both of the Democrat and Republican leaders on the Senate Committee on Appropriations – Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) – are retiring. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) is poised to assume the chair position and on November 16, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced plans to nominate Murray as the Senate President Pro Tempore. Murray would be the first woman in history to hold the esteemed position. Although not confirmed, Susan Collins (R-ME) is expected to become the appropriations committee ranking member. If this happens, Collins’ position as the ranking member for the Transportation Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations Subcommittee will be open to a new Senator. Brian Schatz (D-HI) will remain the THUD Subcommittee chairman.

House Updates

On November 16, House Republicans secured their 218th seat, shifting power from Democrats to Republicans. In wake of the news, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced her plans to retire from leadership following 15 years of serving as the top House Democrat.

Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO) expected to chair the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO) expected to chair the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure

The new governing majority brings a number of leadership changes. Current Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO) of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure will assume the chair position. A notable retirement will come from the current committee chair, Peter DeFazio (D-OR), who has served on the committee since joining Congress in 1986. His retirement will allow either Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) or Rick Larson (D-WA), the next most senior Democrat committee members, to lead the minority party.

In addition to Chairman DeFazio’s retirement, there are several more active and long-standing members of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure retiring at the conclusion of the 117th Congress. Congressmembers Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), John Katko (R-NY), and Bob Gibbs (R-OH) will all retire at the end of the 117th Congress. Primary and election results will also have an impact on the committee’s makeup; Congressmen Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), and Rodney Davis (R-IL) will not return in the 118th Congress.

The current ranking member of the Transportation-Housing Appropriations Subcommittee, Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), is ineligible to remain chair after reaching a six-year term limit set in place by the Republican Conference. There is no definitive representative at the moment to assume the committee chair. As for the Democrat minority on the subcommittee, Mike Quigley (D-IL) will be the ranking member and is expected to lead with a strong focus on rail policy.

State Ballot Measures

According to initial results compiled by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), voters approved 88 percent of state and local transportation investment ballot initiatives, which stand to generate $19.6 billion in one-time and recurring revenue for projects. ARTBA announced that the approval rate for these measures was higher than the historical average.

According to ARTBA, Texas voters approved a combined total of $12.9 billion for 114 measures that will produce more revenue for transportation and infrastructure than any other state. In Florida, there were four different counties with sales tax measures on the ballot to fund road, bridge, and general transportation improvements, none of which passed. Voters in San Francisco, California approved of renewing an existing .5 percent sales tax for the next 30 years to fund transportation projects.

Industry News

Biden-Harris Administration Announces More Than $703 Million to Improve Port Infrastructure, Strengthen National Supply Chains, Lower Costs

On October 28, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced more than $703 million to fund 41 projects in 22 states and one territory that will improve port facilities through the Maritime Administration’s Port Infrastructure Development Program. The funding, made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and additional Congressional appropriations, will benefit coastal seaports, Great Lakes ports, and inland river ports, helping improve supply chain reliability through increased port capacity and resilience, more efficient operations, reduced port emissions, and new workforce opportunities. Together, these investments will help get goods to shelves faster and lower costs for American families.

“So many of the goods we all count on, from appliances to furniture to clothes, move through our nation’s ports on their way to us,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg. “Using funds from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, this year we're awarding record levels of funding to improve our port infrastructure, strengthen our supply chains, and help cut costs for American families.”

The Port Infrastructure Development Program (PIDP) supports efforts by ports and industry stakeholders to improve port and related freight infrastructure to meet the nation’s freight transportation needs and ensure our port infrastructure can meet anticipated growth in freight volumes. The program provides planning, capital funding, and project management assistance to improve ports’ capacity and efficiency. The PIDP provides funding to ports in both urban and rural areas for planning and capital projects. It also includes a statutory set-aside for small ports to continue to improve and expand their capacity to move freight reliably and efficiently, and support local and regional economies.

Read the full release here.

Industry News

FACT SHEET: One Year into Implementation of Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Biden-⁠Harris Administration Celebrates Major Progress in Building a Better America

One year ago, President Biden signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law – a once-in-a-generation investment in our nation’s infrastructure and competitiveness. While “infrastructure week” was a punchline under his predecessor, President Biden is delivering an “infrastructure decade.” One year into implementation, the Biden-Harris Administration is already following through on its promise to deliver results by rebuilding our roads, bridges, ports, and airports, upgrading public transit and rail systems, replacing lead pipes to provide clean water, cleaning up pollution, providing affordable, high-speed internet to every family in America, delivering cheaper and cleaner energy, and creating good-paying jobs.

To date, the Administration has announced over $185 billion in funding and over 6,900 specific projects, reaching over 4,000 communities across all 50 states, D.C., and the territories.  The White House Infrastructure Implementation Team released new state-by-state fact sheets and a new map highlighting projects in all 50 states. The President, Vice President, Cabinet, and senior federal leaders, have taken more than 200 trips to all 50 states, as well as D.C., Puerto Rico, and the territories, to discuss this once-in-a-generation opportunity with community members.

Key highlights include:

  • Launched 2,800 bridge repair and replacement projects across the country.
  • Awarded funds for over 5,000 new clean transit and school buses.
  • Approved state plans for water funding, EV charging networks and high-speed internet deployment.

Upgrading Transportation and Supply Chains

  • Roads & Bridges: The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announced approximately $120 billion in Federal Highway Apportionments for highways and bridges for fiscal years 2022 and 2023. To date, over 2,800 bridge projects have launched.
  • Rail: The Federal Railroad Administration announced its Northeast Corridor Inventory, outlining major backlog projects that will get funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, including the East River Tunnel in New York, the Connecticut River Bridge, and the Susquehanna River Bridge and Frederick Douglas Tunnel in Maryland.
  • Local Infrastructure Projects: USDOT made 26 awards totaling $1.5 billion for highway, multimodal freight and rail projects that will make the nation’s transportation systems safer and more resilient, eliminate supply chain bottlenecks, and improve critical freight movements. USDOT also announced $2.2 billion in Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grants for 166 projects that will allow urban and rural communities to move forward on projects that modernize roads, bridges, transit, rail, ports, and intermodal transportation and make our transportation systems safer, more accessible, more affordable, and more sustainable.

Read the full release here.

Member News

The Northwest Seaport Alliance Announces Partnership with Busan Port Authority to Further Decarbonization of Ports at United Nations Climate Conference

Source: NWSA press release

On November 7, the Northwest Seaport Alliance announced its newest decarbonization effort as part of the Green Shipping Challenge at the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP 27) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change held in the Egyptian city of Sharm el-Sheikh.

The Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA), the marine cargo partnership between the Port of Tacoma and the Port of Seattle, announced its partnership with the Republic of Korea, the Busan Port Authority, and the United States Government to study the feasibility of creating a green cargo shipping corridor between the NWSA and the Busan Port Authority’s cargo gateways.

The Green Shipping Challenge is a new initiative by the United States and Norway to highlight global actions and concrete steps being taken to decarbonize the international shipping industry. As part of this launch, the U.S. State Department invited the NWSA to partner on a feasibility study of a potential green corridor between Seattle-Tacoma and Busan, South Korea.  Over the next year, this study will include experts from three U.S. national labs, the Maersk McKinney Moller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping, and staff from the two cargo gateways exploring the creation this green corridor, including potential sources of alternative ship fuels, and existing and potential future fueling infrastructure.

Read the full release here.

Member News

Breaking Ground to Reduce Freight and Traffic Delays in Northeastern Illinois

Source: CMAP Newsletter

On October 25, CMAP Executive Director Erin Aleman joined U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, Gov. J.B. Pritzker, and numerous transportation partners to break ground on a major project to untangle one of the most congested freight-rail chokepoints in northeastern Illinois.

The groundbreaking ceremony celebrated the first half of the 75th Street Corridor Improvement Program. The program will help reduce freight and traffic delays, bolster Metra service, and improve connections for drivers, pedestrians, and residents throughout Chicago's South Side.

Work on the Forest Hill Flyover Project represents the largest project to date funded through the CREATE program, a public-private partnership that has worked since 2003 to improve rail lines and chokepoints in the region. The ceremony also kicked off construction of the 71st Street Grade Separation project, which will eliminate a crossing where the CSX railroad intersects with 71st Street.

Aleman emceed the event at the CSX Forest Hill Railroad Yard in Chicago, highlighting how the projects will improve quality of life and make travel more reliable for residents in northeastern Illinois. Aleman was joined by Pritzker, Durbin, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, and many other transportation leaders in the region.

"I want to focus on who we’re doing this work for," Aleman said. "It’s about people. It’s about making sure that our transit system can move people reliably to where they need to go faster and affordably. It’s about making sure that our goods make it to the places that they need to go so that businesses can operate, so that households can have the resources they need to live."

Read the full release here.

Research News

New Research Forecasts the State of U.S. Supply Chains in 2023

On October 24, SAP SE (NYSE: SAP) announced a new survey that found senior business decision-makers expect that the unprecedented supply chain issues and disruptions that U.S. companies have been grappling with for years are not over yet. More than half (52%) of those surveyed think their supply chain still needs much improvement and nearly half (49%) expect current supply chain issues to last through the end of 2022. One in three says the issues will last until the end of summer 2023.

Read the full release here.

Research News

25,000 Transportation Projects Started in Year-One of Infrastructure Law, New Report Shows

States leveraged their fiscal year 2022 federal highway formula funds to jumpstart nearly 25,000 new improvement projects in communities across America during the first year of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), a review of U.S. Treasury Department data through August 31 shows.

“A key takeaway from the Treasury data is that the bipartisan infrastructure law is working in year one as intended, with state transportation departments disbursing their funds and projects breaking ground,” said American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) Chief Economist Dr. Alison Premo Black, who reviewed and compiled the data for the report.

Read the full report here.