On October 15, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Elaine Chao announced over $220 million in grant funding for 18 projects in 15 states and territories to improve port facilities through the Maritime Administration’s Port Infrastructure Development Program. The grant program will improve America’s ports. Nearly half of the awards were made to projects located in Opportunity Zones. Established under the Trump administration, Opportunity Zones are considered “economically distressed” communities where certain private investments that contribute to community revitalization projects may be eligible for tax incentives. A complete list of grant recipients can be viewed here.
Established under the FY 2010 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 111-84), the Port Infrastructure Development Program supports efforts by ports and port stakeholders to improve port and freight infrastructure to ensure the current and future needs of America’s freight transportation continue to be met. This program provides funding for planning, stakeholder engagement, operational and capital financing, and project management assistance to ports to improve their capacity and efficiency.
As leaders in the nation’s transportation system, the Port Infrastructure Development Program helps counties improve port facilities and construct critical transportation infrastructure to that fosters economic benefits for entire regions. Ports are a major economic driver in counties across the nation, and counties know the value of making Investments in port facilities that will strengthen the country’s competitiveness in the global market and support local communities by creating and sustaining employment opportunities and improving local infrastructure.
A major priority for counties, the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) is an additional mechanism that funds port infrastructure enhancements and improvements. Congress is currently considering action that would fully unlock the fund. Counties appreciate the U.S. House of Representatives’ inclusion of a full unlock within H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act, as well as H.R. 7575, the Water Resources Development Act of 2020. NACo has additionally sent several letters to the U.S. Senate urging lawmakers in the upper chamber to include the same provision in any water resources or infrastructure bill to ensure that the HMTF can function as intended, and its full receipts are made available to ports to be used for dredging and other port related activities.