More than 20 U.S. port authority officials and their key staff, representing seaports from all four U.S. coasts, will gather today to meet with Congressional leadership to discuss the upcoming surface transportation bill and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ navigation budget.
Lead by American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) Chairwoman of the Board, Kristin Decas, (who is also the CEO and port director of Southern California’s Port of Hueneme) and AAPA President/CEO, Kurt Nagle, the port delegation will meet with the Office of Management and Budget and Congressional leaders on key port industry infrastructure priorities.
The meetings with federal policymakers are in conjunction with AAPA’s new Freight: Keep It Moving campaign that it launched in September. The campaign is to raise awareness of the importance of funding freight-related transportation infrastructure.
“Later this month, lawmakers are expected to be deliberating reauthorization of a surface transportation bill,” said Mr. Nagle. “We want to ensure that policymakers recognize the extraordinary value that investments in freight-related infrastructure bring the nation in terms of jobs, economic growth and international competitiveness.”
Raising policymaker awareness of the importance of adequately funding the Corps of Engineers navigation budget is another high priority for the AAPA port delegation. During their meetings on Capitol Hill this week, port executives will reiterate that the Corps budget must reflect the needs of seaports to ensure America builds the 21st century waterside infrastructure to meet the trade and safety needs of the future.
Last year, on a bi-partisan basis, Congress overwhelmingly passed the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA). It included a 10-year investment plan to fully use Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT) collections to maintain federal navigation channels and provide more equity to donors.
The WRRDA bill also included authorizations to begin port navigation improvement projects. AAPA is urging that Congress provide an increase in the Corps construction budget, that it hit the HMT target funding amount for navigation operations and maintenance, and provide greater equity to HMT donors.