The Trade Corridor Bulletin

Volume 18 – No. 1 | November 2023

In Memory of Mort Downey: CAGTC Founding Chairman and Transportation Leader

By: CAGTC Staff

Mort Downey, Founding Chairman of the Coalition for America’s Gateways & Trade Corridors and renowned transportation policy expert, passed away on November 2. Mort spent his decades-long career improving transportation policy and programming across the industry. As CAGTC’s Founding Chairman, Mort steered CAGTC since its formation in 2001. In CAGTC’s infancy, he guided policy development that helped the group grow from just a handful of members to the 60-member organization it is today. What’s more, is that these same policies have been widely adopted across the nation. His expertise was rivaled by few, and despite the many demands on his time over the years, Mort was always generous with his knowledge and experience. Moreover, he was a joy and pleasure to know. A man dedicated to his work, his family, and his nation, Mort will be remembered as a tremendous leader and friend. Mort will be missed by all who had the pleasure to know him.

Sharon Neely, 2013-2016 CAGTC Chair

“I was honored to work with Mort beginning in the mid 80’s. In those days, west coast transportation agencies were seen as ‘newcomers’ to the industry and whose transportation policies were hotly debated amongst the trade agencies. Mort’s consensus skills during those hot leadership policy debates made me want to learn as much as I could from him and apply to vast California transportation expansion needs. Many colleagues have already spoken on Mort’s accomplishments that literally improved the national transportation network. As I look over those years until now, it is easy for me to say that he was truly the ‘Father of Transportation.' Since the 80s, he was the go-to problem solver on transportation matters, taking on issues no one wanted to with his quiet but effective charm and ability to work out solutions. There never was a subject on transportation that Mort did not only have specific detailed knowledge of but well considered options for resolving challenges. Mort’s leadership and problem solving skills had a lasting impact on so many of us across the country who have gone on to try to emulate and pass down ‘what would Mort do skills’ to our colleagues. Mort’s quiet demeanor would steer away from 'Father of Transportation' title. As founding chairman of CAGTC, there can be no better example of his skills leading to the successes and resulting partnership with Congress and the Administration on intermodal funding, which supports goods movement and eliminating bottlenecks in the U.S. I thank Mort’s family for sharing him with us and understand truly how much he meant to us across the country," said Sharon Neely, 2013-2016 CAGTC Chair.

Tim Lovain, 2016-2019 CAGTC Chair

"Mort possessed a rare combination of enormous expertise, great judgment and sheer amiability that made him a real pleasure to work with. He will be sorely missed by the CAGTC Board and many others in the transportation world," said Tim Lovain, 2016-2019 CAGTC Chair.

Paul Hubler, 2019-2022 CAGTC Chair

"Mort Downey embodied the highest qualities of a public servant, continually learning and sharing his expertise with those seeking, like him, to improve our nation’s transportation investments and outcomes. Mort’s powerful intellect and encyclopedic knowledge of transportation policy and programs were legendary. Mort was founding chairman of the Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors in 2001 and remained an active guide and mentor to those, like me, fortunate to have served with him on the Board of Directors. Thanks to Mort’s wise counsel, the coalition has delivered robust and profound federal funding and policy initiatives to strengthen our nation’s goods movement infrastructure. In reading recent tributes to Mort, the impressive reach of his career accomplishments came into focus. I served a three-year stint as chairman of the coalition nearly 20 years after Mort did and am grateful for the path he and others blazed. I count myself among those who drew strength from Mort’s example and advice and am proud to stand with them in cherishing his memory," said Paul Hubler, 2019-2022 CAGTC Chair.

Paul Anderson, CAGTC Chair

“Working with Mort Downey during his many years of service to both CAGTC and the broader transportation industry can only be described as a true honor and privilege. Throughout his remarkable career, Mort led with passion, kindness, and integrity – generously sharing his time and vast expertise with all who were lucky enough to have known him as a colleague, mentor, or friend. His leadership as CAGTC’s Founding Chairman and his numerous contributions to national transportation policy have left a profound legacy that will continue to serve as an inspiration to me and many others," said Paul Anderson, 2022-present CAGTC Chair.

Leslie Blakey, CAGTC President

“Mort Downey was a giant in the field of transportation. From his in-depth knowledge of budgetary practices to his meticulous reading and analysis of legislative language, he was an invaluable resource to us at CAGTC. In the earliest days of our group’s organization, he guided the Coalition’s principles so that today, they still reflect a clear vision and evergreen concepts. For more than 20 years, he has generously given his time and knowledge, cordially taking calls at all hours to advise on late-breaking developments. We will miss him greatly,” said Leslie Blakey, President of the Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors.

 

Mort's obituary may be viewed here. An obituary for Mort in the New York Times may be viewed here. 

The Eno Center for Transportation created The Mortimer L. Downey Fellowship to honor Mort’s contributions to the industry. To learn more or to make a contribution, click here.

CAGTC Members Secure 23 Percent of FY23 PIDP Funding

By: CAGTC Staff

On November 3, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Maritime Administration (MARAD) awarded over $653 million toward 41 projects through the Port Infrastructure Development Program (PIDP). Of this amount, $152 million – 23 percent of total funding – went to CAGTC member projects. Congratulations to our member organizations receiving fiscal year 2023 awards: the Port of Long Beach, Port of Hueneme, Port of San Diego, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and the Northwest Seaport Alliance.

The port improvement projects receiving awards will strengthen supply chain reliability, create workforce development opportunities, speed up the movement of goods, and improve the safety and reliability of ports.

“The ships arriving at the Port of New York and New Jersey are carrying the goods that power our region’s economy,” said Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole. “This grant award will make sure those ships have a reliable place to dock – a rebuilt wharf and pier structure that will last well into the future.”

“We are immensely grateful to the U.S. Department of Transportation for their award of these much-needed funds to the Port of San Diego,” said Chairman Rafael Castellanos, Port of San Diego Board of Port Commissioners. “This funding ensures that we remain the San Diego region’s gateway to the world and a leader in the clean, sustainable, safe, and efficient movement of international and domestic maritime cargo. We thank Senator Padilla along with the many other stakeholders and members of our congressional delegation for their support of our efforts. Their commitment to sustainability, public health, health equity, and the environment is critical and will help us meet our ambitious clean air goals and keep our promises to our communities.”

“As the nation’s sixth largest port specializing in the logistics of automobiles, this PIDP funding award to start the engineering plan to build a green parking structure on Port is a welcome start for us to maximize the use of critical space to better serve the Port’s customers and US consumer demand,” said Kristin Decas, CEO & Port Director for the Port of Hueneme. “With 23% of our automotive throughput being electric vehicles, we are excited to build capacity to best serve the rapidly emerging zero emission vehicle market.”

“The Northwest Seaport Alliance is proud to receive PIDP grant funds and thanks the U.S. Department of Transportation for this award which will launch a series of critical improvements at Husky Terminal in our South Harbor that will further enhance our gateway’s global competitiveness” stated Commissioner Deanna Keller, Port of Tacoma Commission President and Co-Chair with The Northwest Seaport Alliance.

“The improvements will increase the efficiency of cargo operations, reduce truck turn times, and shorten vessel stays while at berth which all reduce carbon emissions that impact near-port residents in our South Harbor,” stated Commissioner Sam Cho, Port of Seattle Commission President and Co-Chair with The Northwest Seaport Alliance.

The full list of awards can be found here.

Industry News

Senator Cramer Statement on Senate Passage of Funding Bill to Avert a Government Shutdown

U.S. Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND) issued the following statements after voting for the Further Continuing Appropriations and Other Extensions Act. This continuing resolution (CR), which passed the Senate by a vote of 87 to 11, extends funding in the Agriculture, Energy and Water, Military-Construction/Veterans, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriation bills until January 19, 2024 and extends the remaining funding through February 4, 2024.

“Passing this continuing resolution gives Congress more time to work through regular order and pass legislation all members had a role in debating and amending, instead of being jammed with a massive, partisan omnibus crafted by only a few. Congress should have finished these bills months ago, but I remain committed to doing the hard work needed to get the job done.”

Read the full release here.

Industry News

Biden-Harris Administration Opens Applications for Nearly $10 Billion in Funding to Improve Nation’s Bridges

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration opened applications for nearly $10 billion in funding for fiscal years 2023-2026 through the competitive Bridge Investment Program’s “Large Bridge Project” category, which funds projects larger than $100 million. The Bridge Investment Program was established by the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which makes the single largest dedicated investment in bridges since the construction of the Interstate highway system: a total of $40 billion over five years to help ensure that some of the nation’s most important bridges remain safe and operational, meet current and future traveler needs, support local economies, strengthen our supply chains, and create good-paying jobs across the country.

Key updates to the Bridge Investment Program, Large Bridge Project competitive grants announced include:

  • Accepting applications for FY2023-FY2026, creating the opportunity for applicants to compete for funding for all four fiscal years with a single application.
  • Updated merit criteria to provide more direction to applicants, as well as an updated “smart application” template that FHWA highly encourages applicants to use to assist applicants in filling out the application.
  • A new Benefit Cost Analysis tool to assist applicants in completing required project analysis.
  • An optional initial eligibility screening to provide applicants whose submission is determined to be incomplete or ineligible the opportunity to submit an amended application.

The Bridge Investment Program is a competitive, discretionary grant program that creates opportunity for all levels of government to be direct recipients of program funds. It focuses on the replacement, rehabilitation, preservation and protection of existing bridges across the country. While this funding opportunity is solely for bridge projects larger than $100 million, FHWA will soon open applications for bridge projects up to $100 million. This upcoming funding opportunity will also help create a pipeline of future projects through smaller dollar grants that help communities advance bridge projects through the planning process.

Read the full release here.

Member Spotlight

Paving the Future: The SGVCOG's Drive to Enhance Southern California's Transportation

Dedicated to enriching the lives of San Gabriel Valley residents, the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments (SGVCOG) has led critical infrastructure initiatives throughout this region of Southern California. Our recent undertakings, particularly the SR 57/60 Confluence Chokepoint Relief Project and the Fairway Drive Grade Separation Project, stand as a testament to our commitment to a robust and safe infrastructure system.

Nestled at the intersection of three counties, Los Angeles, Orange, and San Bernardino, the State Route 57/60 Confluence Chokepoint Relief Project will address traffic congestion and safety concerns at one of the nation's most complex and problematic freeway junctions. This two-mile-long confluence of State Route 57 and State Route 60 is a critical link for the region and witnesses a daily traffic volume of approximately 350,000 vehicles. Due to lane drops and hazardous weaving between tracks and commuters, the interchange is California's worst truck bottleneck and the seventh-worst in the nation, according to the American Transportation Research Institute. Through the strength of our partnerships with Los Angeles County Metro, Caltrans, and the Cities of Industry and Diamond Bar, this $444.12 million broke ground in June and is scheduled for completion in July 2028.

State Route 57/60 Project Groundbreaking Ceremony (June 2023)

As construction has commenced, the SR 57/60 Confluence Chokepoint Relief project promises to enhance this interchange by improving traffic flow, boosting commuter safety, improving air quality, and facilitating the seamless movement of goods from the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach through the Alameda Corridor-East Trade Corridor to the rest of the nation. To achieve these improvements, several modifications must be made to the confluence. This includes reconfiguring ramps and interchanges and adding mainline and bypass lanes, which are aimed not only at growth and opportunity, but also at ensuring a safe commute for the region’s workers. Upon completion, these upgrades will significantly benefit Southern California's ports, intermodal facilities, manufacturing, and export-oriented industries, leading to increased efficiency and prosperity.

However, the SGVCOG's commitment to improving Southern California's transportation infrastructure also extends to the railways. In the City of Industry, the completion of a four-lane roadway underpass at Fairway Drive marks a significant milestone. As part of the Alameda Corridor-East (ACE) Project, the Fairway Drive Grade Separation Project is the 16th of 19 railway-grade crossings completed by the SGVCOG.

In an effort to alleviate traffic congestion and improve safety at this busy intersection, a new four-lane underpass and railroad bridge were built. Completing the four-lane underpass and railroad bridge at Fairway Drive in July of this year memorializes a new era of safety and efficiency for one of the San Gabriel Valley's most problematic crossings -- the Federal Railroad Administration reported 17 accidents at this location, including three fatalities and 11 injuries before construction commenced. In addition to neutralizing these safety concerns, this strategic project promises to reduce the projected future congestion increase along this intersection. With an estimated 26,000 vehicles and up to 91 trains expected to use this underpass and bridge daily by 2025, the positive benefits of the grade separation on local traffic and rail fluidity will be undeniable. Moreover, eliminating noise pollution from train horns and gate alarm signals will benefit nearby residents.

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for the Fairway Drive Grade Separation Project (July 2023)

SGVCOG's vision extends beyond these two projects. Our mission with the Alameda Corridor-East (ACE) Project to improve safety at 19 railway crossings further emphasizes our dedication to community safety and seamless goods movement. The ACE Trade Corridor, handling 16% of the nation's waterborne containerized trade, plays an indispensable role in the region's economic health and, by extension, the country.

As the largest and most diverse sub-regional council of governments in Los Angeles County, SGVCOG is proud of our strides in transportation infrastructure. We are immensely grateful to federal, state, and local partners whose contributions make these advancements possible. Our collaborations underscore a collective commitment to the future of the San Gabriel Valley, a region on the move.

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The San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments (SGVCOG) is a regional government planning agency that aims to maximize the quality of life in the San Gabriel Valley. The SGVCOG operates as a joint powers authority that consists of 31 incorporated cities and unincorporated communities in Los Angeles County Supervisorial Districts 1 and 5 and three San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water Districts (San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District, Three Valleys Municipal Water District, and Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District). The SGVCOG is the largest and most diverse sub-regional council of governments.

Member News

Port Tampa Bay approves new lease agreements to expand operations at Port Redwing to support Florida's booming population

Port Tampa Bay’s Board of Commissioners recently approved three separate lease agreements to expand operations at Port Redwing. The agreements were approved with AJAX Paving Industries of Florida, LLC, Redwing Terminals, LLC, and Pangaea Florida, LLC to expand the handling of a variety of aggregates, including limestone, granite, and crushed concrete; cementitious products and several others. These materials will support roadbuilding, infrastructure, and construction projects to keep pace with and serve Florida’s rapidly expanding population.

AJAX Paving Industries of Florida is a privately owned company with more than forty-two years of experience in paving and road construction building Florida’s highways and infrastructure. Ajax currently operates eight asphalt plants in Florida and six asphalt plants in Michigan. The port’s board approved a lease agreement with AJAX for ten acres of land at Port Redwing, with conveyor access to Berth 302 for the importation of aggregate.

“Port Tampa Bay, and especially Port Redwing, continues to diversify its operations to best serve the fast-growing region and state. The recently approved leases with AJAX, Redwing Terminals, and Pangaea Florida will bring in new bulk and aggregate businesses that will create new jobs and spur future economic development,” explained Paul Anderson, Port Tampa Bay President and CEO.

Read the full release here.

Research News

Trucking’s Annual Congestion Costs Top $94.6 Billion

Traffic congestion on U.S. highways added $94.6 billion in costs to the trucking industry in 2021 according to the latest Cost of Congestion study published by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI). This is the highest level yet recorded through this ongoing research initiative.

ATRI utilized a variety of data sources including its unique truck GPS database to calculate trucking delay impacts from 2017 through 2021 on major U.S. roadways.  While year-over-year congestion costs decreased in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they rose sharply in 2021 with a total of 1.27 billion hours of lost productivity. This increase in costs reflects the dramatic post-COVID economic recovery, with high GDP growth and freight demand borne from record levels of consumer spending. This level of delay equates to more than 460,000 commercial truck drivers sitting idle for one work year, and the 2021 figure represents a 27 percent increase from the report’s baseline year of 2016 – an increase that is twice the rate of inflation.

The report also documents transportation investment by states through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), which could provide as much as $350 billion in funding to address congestion.

Read the full report here.