Seaports Magazine - Spring 2016 - (Page 8)

» FROM THE PRESIDENT'S DESK The Universal Challenges of Infrastructure By Kurt J. Nagle President & CEO American Association of Port Authorities P orts have a lot of issues on their plates, but there is none more timely, expansive and consuming than infrastructure. I hear this time and time again from members throughout the Western Hemisphere. When we last polled our leadership on relevant issues, infrastructure was the term that jumped out far ahead of others. It's universal - affecting ports throughout Canada, the Caribbean, Latin America and the United States. Whether cruise or cargo ports, a port in many ways is only as effective and efficient as its infrastructure. AAPA often hosts fact-finding delegations from ports around the world - officials and industry leaders from Asia and Europe pay a visit to AAPA headquarters as part of a U.S. tour. During our meetings, the one topic that always comes up is infrastructure. Infrastructure is a pretty big umbrella for ports, covering equipment on portoperated or port-owned/privately-leased terminals, highway connectors to port facilities, rail connections and on-dock rail, navigation channels, energy sources, undeveloped land and more. Needs vary from port to port - some have naturally deep water but major constraints on land, and others are able to find the terminal space they need but encounter constant problems keeping their waterways operating at authorized dimensions. There are a number of very specific challenges that ports of all sizes, locations and operating models encounter regarding infrastructure. First is how to figure out what their future infrastructure needs are. A previous issue of Seaports magazine looked at the issue of big data. In short, there is more data than ports could probably ever 8 AAPA SEAPORTS MAGAZINE determine how to use. So they utilize both in-house staff and outside partners to sift the data into meaningful products that inform medium- and long-term decision making. Cargo forecasting is a key part of this process and often must be done in partnership or coordination with other entities. How ports come up with these forecasts can be tricky. There are so many economic indicators available now, and ports need to know which ones matter to them. And while macro trends are certainly relevant of challenges as the federal government is legally responsible for those channels. Yet the federal share of funding for deeper (or wider) channels is hard to come by in budget-constrained Washington, D.C., often leaving ports with few options for how to bring their water infrastructure in line with what they and their private sector partners are doing on the landside. A third challenge for ports is maintaining and modernizing their existing infrastructure. While overall cargo trends have been "AAPA often hosts fact-finding delegations from ports around the world - officials and industry leaders from Asia and Europe pay a visit to AAPA headquarters as part of a U.S. tour. During our meetings, the one topic that always comes up is infrastructure." and create the backdrop for an individual port, micro trends are often the information that fleshes out details. Yet cargo forecasts themselves are not a final product. They must inform port plans that lay out the future of land and facilities, ultimately informing and guiding decisions about equipment, terminal design and traffic flows. Port plans should ideally be in sync with private industry and government plans to ensure a maximum level of coordination and efficiency throughout the goods movement system. A second challenge is funding the identified future needs. This is no small task, as capital projects can stretch into the hundreds of millions of dollars or even - in the case of bridge or tunnel projects - billions of dollars. In the United States, funding channel deepening projects presents a unique set good in recent years, not every port has felt the pressure to expand at a fast clip. Yet no port can afford to let its current assets lose value because of disrepair or outdated technology. Maintenance and modernization projects often afford ports opportunities as well to improve efficiencies or realize cost savings - not small benefits when it comes to infrastructure. This issue of Seaports dives headfirst into infrastructure at ports. My hope is that you can use the information here as a yardstick to measure your organization's own efforts - whether they be forecasting the future, growing to meet needs, modernizing existing assets to maximize their benefits or funding capital projects. As our members have articulated time and time again, there is plenty to discuss when it comes to infrastructure, and this issue isn't going away any time soon. ●

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Seaports Magazine - Spring 2016

AAPA Headquarters
From the President’s Desk
Port to Market: Building Infrastructure to Meet Demand
Turning on the Funding Tap
Seaports Maintenance and Modernization
Do Ports Know What’s Coming?
Surface Transportation System Enables Economic Prosperity
Dredged Material Disposal: 5 Ways to Expedite Federal Approval
The Importance of Infrastructure in the Cruise Industry
Index of Advertisers

Seaports Magazine - Spring 2016