Seaports Magazine - Summer 2015 - (Page 20)

»FEATURE WRRDA ONE YEAR LATER The legislation, passed in May 2014, opened the door to new infrastructure projects and potential job growth Containers stacked at Boston Harbor. By Nina Rao W hen the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) was signed in May 2014, members of Congress from both sides of the aisle and organizations from AAPA to the Business Roundtable to the Seafarers International Union applauded its passage and lauded it almost more as a jobs engine than as an infrastructure boon. But WRRDA 2014 actually creates no jobs at all; it only opens the door to job creation - provided federal funds appear. "There is a lot of opportunity for job creation in WRRDA," said Whit Remer, senior manager of federal government relations for the American Society of Civil Engineers. "It's now up to Congress to appropriate for it. It's easy to authorize; it's hard to appropriate." In fact, for many projects, appropriations stall or never come through at all, making it difficult to plan, and that's where some ports have forged ahead on their own, The MSC Judith at berth at Boston Harbor. 20 AAPA SEAPORTS MAGAZINE increasing their own competitiveness and creating jobs in the process. "What you really have to realize is the amount of (non-federal) investment going on in getting ready for post-Panamax," Remer said. "The ports invest and then keep their fingers crossed" that they'll get some of the money back from the federal government. WRRDA 2014 authorizes 34 projects and $12.3 billion in spending across the Corps' business lines. Nine of these projects are in navigation, but only four of the projects (Port of Savannah, Jacksonville Harbor, Boston Harbor and Freeport Harbor) have funds appropriated in the federal budget for fiscal year 2015. So far, two (Port of Savannah and Boston Harbor) have funds included in the administration's budget request for fiscal year 2016. "There are far more needs than we have funds for," said Jeff McKee, chief of the navigation branch of the Army Corps of Engineers. But there is a cost - in both dollars and jobs - to not investing. In its 2012 report, Failure to Act: The Economic Impact of Current Investment Trends in Airports, Inland Waterways, and Marine Ports Infrastructure, the American Society of Civil Engineers estimated that 738,000 jobs would be lost by 2020 if the U.S. continued at current levels of investment in its marine and inland waterways. By 2040, the estimate is for 1.4 million jobs lost. The loss of jobs would be both direct and indirect, caused, for example, by the increasing cost of imports due to inefficiencies at ports. Boston Harbor got a taste of this type of inefficiency in November 2014 when the MSC Judith, a 1,065-foot, 8,000-TEU ship, docked at Conley Container Terminal. The MSC Judith is the biggest container ship ever to call on Boston Harbor, and since Boston Harbor is not yet big-ship ready, accepting the Judith was a logistical challenge. The containers had to be loaded in such a way that the harbor's low-profile cranes could unload them. The ship itself had to ride the 9-foot tide to move in and out of the harbor. But the Massachusetts Port Authority is working hard to get Conley Terminal bigship ready, and it is one of the lucky few in WRRDA 2014 to be on track for federal funds. This is thanks in large part to a high benefit-to-cost ratio for the deepening of its channel from 40 feet to 51 feet. "The project definitely has a really high net economic benefit," said Chris Morris, senior project manager for maritime at the Massachusetts Port Authority.

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Seaports Magazine - Summer 2015

AAPA Headquarters
From the President’s Desk
A Paradigm Shift
U.S. Ports Benefit Economy
Port Education and Training Programs for the Next Generation
WRRDA One Year Later
Saltwater in His Veins
We Need to Invest in the Backbone of Our Economy
MARAD Programs Help Ports Stay Strong
Preparing the Port Leaders of Tomorrow
Index of Advertisers

Seaports Magazine - Summer 2015