U.S. seaports plan to invest $46 billion by 2017

While port authorities and their business partners are making major investments into port facilities, studies show the intermodal links—such as roads, bridges, tunnels and federal navigation channels—to access these facilities get scant attention by state and federal agencies responsible for their upkeep

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In a recently completed survey that the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) initiated, U.S. seaport agencies and their private-sector partners plan to invest a combined $46 billion over the next five years in wide-ranging capital improvements to their marine operations and other port properties.

Maritime director, Kraig Jondle, Director of Business and Trade Developmentat the Port of Los Angeles, said the existing infrastructure and ongoing expansion of terminals and warehousing will only make the port more attractive for trade in both directions.

“It’s encouraging see that exports are ramping up,” he says, “but we are forecasting a steady increase in inbound calls, too. We work very closely with the Port of Long Beach to ensure that Southern California can compete with ports anywhere in the nation. We have deep water and a great rail network, so we don’t have to raise bridges or dredge harbors.”

While port authorities and their business partners are making major investments into port facilities, studies show the intermodal links—such as roads, bridges, tunnels and federal navigation channels—to access these facilities get scant attention by state and federal agencies responsible for their upkeep, resulting in traffic bottlenecks that increase product costs and hamper job growth.

To help remedy these problems, AAPA continues to advocate for a national freight infrastructure strategy and for the U.S. Congress to quickly pass a reauthorized multi-year transportation bill that targets federal dollars toward economically strategic freight transportation infrastructure of national and regional significance.

“Infrastructure investments in America’s ports and their intermodal connections – both on the land and waterside – are in our nation’s best interest because they provide opportunities to bolster our economic and employment recovery, help sustain long term prosperity, and pay annual dividends through the generation of more than $200 billion in federal, state and local tax revenue and more than $22 billion in Customs duties,” said Kurt Nagle, AAPA president and CEO. 

According to economist John C. Martin, Ph.D., president of Lancaster, Pa.-based Martin Associates, U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis formulas show that investing $46 billion in infrastructure at U.S. ports creates more than 500,000 direct, indirect and induced domestic jobs, accounting for more than 1 billion person-hours of work.

“Those are really significant job numbers,” emphasized Martin.  “From a dollars-and-cents perspective, it’s hard to over-emphasize the value of investing in ports, particularly when you factor in how much these investments help lower the cost of imports and make our exports more competitive overseas.”

Nagle added that, despite substantial investments by port authorities and their private-sector business partners, inadequate infrastructure connecting ports to landside transportation networks and water-side shipping lanes often creates bottlenecks, resulting in congestion, productivity losses and a global economic disadvantage for America.  “These congestion issues and productivity losses have the potential to stymie America’s ability to compete internationally and to create and sustain jobs,” he said.


About the Author

Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at [email protected]

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Article Topics

Intermodal · Trade · Transportation · All Topics
Hub Group Resources
Not Your Grandfather's Intermodal
Transportation of freight in containers was first recorded around 1780 to move coal along England’s Bridgewater Canal. However, "modern" intermodal rail service by a major U.S. railroad only dates back to 1936. Malcom McLean’s Sea-Land Service significantly advanced intermodalism, showing how freight could be loaded into a “container” and moved by two or more modes economically and conveniently. As with all new technologies, there were problems that slowed the growth, which influenced many potential customers to shy away from moving intermodal.
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