The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) has just released its 2016-2020 Port Planned Infrastructure Investment Survey.
In the survey, AAPA asked the U.S. member ports how much they and their private-sector partners plan to spend on port-related freight and passenger infrastructure over the next five years. The answer was a whopping $154.8 billion.
AAPA then contrasted that number with what it believes is the “best-case” scenario for investments by the federal government into U.S. ports, including their land and water-side connections, through 2020. The answer was just $24.825 billion.
According to AAPA President and CEO Kurt Nagle, the vast difference between the two investment numbers poses tangible concerns, particularly considering the need to increase government investments in America’s federal navigation channels and the “first-and-last mile” connections with ports.
Economist John C. Martin, Ph.D., president of Lancaster, Pa.-based Martin Associates, said that U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis formulas show that investing nearly $155 billion in capital projects at U.S. ports would create about 1.6 million direct, indirect and induced domestic jobs, accounting for approximately 3.3 billion person-hours of work over the period of the investment.
The combined $155 billion, five-year investment that U.S. ports and their private sector partners are planning, represents a more than three-fold increase over the combined $46 billion figure obtained from the same survey five years ago. The biggest project investments will be in ports along the U.S. Gulf Coast.
According to the findings of AAPA, the federal government has historically under-invested in the nation’s goods movement system. America’s road transportation network, for example, was only ranked 16th in The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report for 2014-15, while federal navigation channels aren’t being adequately maintained at their originally-constructed depths and widths.