U.S. Ports Celebrate Increased Congressional Funding

Port of Oakland

Published May 3, 2015 7:30 PM by Kathryn Stone

The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA), which represents more than 130 public port authorities in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America, celebrates a major funding victory today with the passage of the US House of Representative’s 2016 Energy and Water Appropriations bill and two included amendments.

The bill and accompanying amendments increase funding for Harbor Maintenance Tax to 36.3 million, which will help achieve a 2016 port improvement target of $1.25 billion. This is a major milestone in for US ports hoping to improve and maintain existing infrastructures. In total, AAPA member ports claim they will need $28.9 billion by 2025 in order to improve the road, rail and tunnel systems that support US port operations. 

Over the past seven years US seaports have greatly increased their role in the American economy according to a 2014 economic impact study conducted by Martin Associates. Twenty-six percent of the United States’ $17.4 trillion economy is derived from seaport commerce as of 2014. This is up from their 20 percent contribution to the 16.1 trillion 2007 economy.

International trade accounts for a key area of growth for America’s seaports, with an overall increase of 60 percent in value over the last seven years.

“The growth in the contributions of our ports to the nation’s economy underscores the need to invest in infrastructure and technology to support and foster good jobs, national security, inter­national trade and our standard of living,” said Dr. John Martin, president of Martin Associates.

Kurt Nagel AAPA president and CEO said today’s victory was an important step forward for US ports, but he also reiterated the fact that ports are still in severe need of additional funding from the federal government. “The fact is that while over a quarter of the nation’s $17.4 trillion economy is accounted for by port cargo activity, neither the waterside nor landside connections with our ports are receiving adequate federal investment, which puts our economy at risk and reduces America's competitiveness in global markets” he noted in a statement today.

Nagel and others in the port community have now turned their eyes to the upcoming US Senate’s appropriation bill, which they hope will share the same spirit of funding as the bill that passed today.