Aimee Andres, Executive Director of non-profit trade association Inland Rivers Ports & Terminals, Inc. (IRPT) has penned a letter to Congress that says that the U.S. “freight transportation backbone, its ability to survive and thrive and compete globally heavily depends as much on America’s inland ports and terminals as on its large coastal ports and harbors.”
Among other things, the letter notes that of the $1 billion in funding for various MARAD programs and operations, only $7 million of this total was designated for the Marine Highway Program and that, although Congress also authorized nearly $293 million for Port Infrastructure Development Program grants, these are targeted at coastal seaports, with inland ports not being eligible for this program at all,
IRPT is advocating a solution that meets the need head-on: it specifically dedicates funding for the many private and public inland and smaller coastal port and terminal facilities that serve the nation’s freight transportation needs and in amounts that are more likely to meet their actual needs.
IRPT has proposed that Congress establish a new discretionary grants program that:
- extends eligibility to public and private ports and terminals;
- includes inland ports of all sizes (to help offset the Ports Infrastructure Development Program’s restriction to coastal seaports)
- limits eligible coastal ports to those handling not more than 8 million tons (to help offset the practical disadvantage of such ports in a benefit-cost analysis relative to larger coastal ports);
- can be used for projects inside facility boundaries for river (non-channel), road and rail projects; and
- proposes a 50/50 cost share (in order to increase the amount of non-federal infrastructure investments beyond what would be generated by a lower percentage required for non-federal investment, such as 20% or 25%).
You can read the full text of the letter HERE