Ports Group ‘Encouraged’ By U.S. House Transportation Bill
The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA), “is pleased to see new freight provisions contained in the Surface Transportation Reauthorization & Reform Act of 2015 (STRR), which was recently approved by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
The industry group specifically lauds a key provision in the six-year bill – H.R. 3763 – is a “Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects” grants program which expands the national highway freight network to enhance the nation’s transportation infrastructure by including highway connections to critical facilities such as ports and intermodal facilities.
The bill also requires establishment of a national freight strategic plan—all of which address port needs in the planning process.
“We’re encouraged that the House surface transportation legislation has language in it that focuses on the nation’s freight needs to improve the flow of goods moving to and from our nation’s ports,” said Kurt Nagle, AAPA president and CEO, who urged “robust, sustainable freight provisions” be included in final legislation.
The STRR funding package would provide grants for large-scale projects of national or regional significance, including—for the first time—intermodal connections with ports. Funding would be set at $4.5 billion for fiscal years 2016 through 2021.
An additional $200 million a year in credit assistance would be authorized for the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program to help finance qualified capital projects.
Congressman Jerrold Nadler of New York, the ranking Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, gave his support to measure while expressing concerns over funding levels.
“According to DOT, there is an $808 billion backlog of investment needs on highways and bridges, including $479 billion in critical repair work,” Nadler said, at a committee session. “Yet, this bill provides flat funding of just $325 billion over six years.”
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