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  May 31st, 2018 | Written by

Multimodal Funding Needs of US Seaports

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  • One-third of US ports cited pressing rail project needs costing at least $50 million each.
  • Sixty-seven percent of US ports said funding and financing are the biggest obstacles in getting rail projects started.
  • Problematic rail crossings, overpasses, and tunnels near ports are constraining cargo-handling capacity.

In a recently-released report, US port authorities identified more than $20 billion in projected multimodal port and rail access needs over the next decade, while one-third cited pressing rail project needs costing at least $50 million for each of their ports. Sixty-seven percent said that funding and financing options are the biggest obstacles in getting essential rail projects started to access their facilities.  Furthermore, 37 percent said that problematic at-grade rail crossings or height-restricted overpasses and tunnels near their ports are constraining cargo-handling capacity while 36 percent reported that land acquisition is a big problem in developing and planning port rail access projects.

These are the top-line results from an American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) survey, titled The State of Freight III.  This is the third report in as many years conducted by AAPA that focuses on the needs of ports to effectively move goods into and out of their facilities by land and water.

“In State of Freight III, we take a deep-dive into the freight transportation needs of our US member port authorities, with an emphasis on rail access,” said AAPA President and CEO Kurt Nagle. “The findings show that while the FAST (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation) Act has been essential in providing the building blocks for a national freight program, more must be done to ensure that multimodal goods movement projects have adequate resources to produce efficient and timely results. These transportation projects are crucial to address our nation’s increasing freight volumes and enhance America’s international competitiveness.”

Seaports, the report noted, “rely on a host of transportation modes and nodes, including roads, rails, waterways, tunnels and overpasses, to move large volumes of cargo, which may be headed to, or originating from, manufacturing, distribution, assembly and processing centers that support economic growth and millions of US jobs.

“Our nation’s ports have identified a vast array of projects which are ready for investment and could move forward if the issues in this report could be addressed,” said Nagle. “It’s important that steps be taken to resolve the barriers identified in this report that are preventing these projects from progressing.”