Seaports Magazine - Summer 2015 - (Page 29)

» GUEST VIEWPOINT MARAD Programs Help Ports Stay Strong By Roger Bohnert Deputy Associate Administrator for Intermodal System Development United States Maritime Administration C ompelling evidence confirms what we in the industry already know: America's ports play a starring role in the nation's economy. International trade and our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) are inextricably linked - where goes one, so goes the other - and our seaports handle nearly all of our overseas trade by volume and about two-thirds by value. So trade drives the economy and ports move the trade, which in turn creates millions of jobs. It is imperative that ports remain strong. In April, a new report by Martin Associates, titled 2014 National Economic Impact of the U.S. Coastal Port System, put a finer point on the contribution of our coastal ports, confirming that their impact on GDP and ability to generate employment are significant and growing. What has been more difficult to quantify until now, however, is the widening infrastructure gap standing between the ports of today and the demands of tomorrow - a future rapidly unfolding. In April, AAPA helped define this gap. The results of its 2015 The State of Freight - Port Surface Transportation Infrastructure Survey identified nearly $29 billion in infrastructure needs among member ports alone. Today's larger ships, liner alliances, Panama Canal expansion and shifting trade routes are already impacting ports. Recent congestion surges in the Northeast, the West Coast and the Mid-Atlantic warn that change is needed now. A significant part of this challenge is the required investment in infrastructure. More freight is coming over the next 20 years. America's population is projected to increase by 70 million, the rough equivalent of adding the populations of California, Texas and Massachusetts combined, sparking a 45 percent increase in freight over today's volumes. Last year, the Maritime Administration implemented the StrongPorts program to help address these needs. Following extensive stakeholder outreach, we shaped the program to parallel the continuum of any successful infrastructure project - planning and stakeholder engagement, financing and project execution. Within this framework, we are providing the people, products and services to help ports develop investment grade plans that result in successful projects. reviews and other activities, as needed. These tools can help ports access public funds and attract private capital. In partnership with AAPA and its members, a Port Planning and Investment Toolkit is underway - a go-to guide to help plan, fund and execute projects. The first module, Funding Strategies, helps navigate credit, financing and other issues. Additional modules are under development. Additionally, as the port's advocate, we can help identify public funding tools. As a member of the newly formed Build America Transportation Investment Our ports are silent economic engines and a national asset. They need investments in modern and efficient infrastructure to meet tomorrow's demands. Unlike state departments of transportation, transit agencies and metropolitan planning organizations that have been requesting federal assistance for decades, most ports had little need to do so - until now. With a growing need to access public funding at the federal, state and local level, integrated and cross-modal planning is becoming more essential. As projects become increasingly complex and costly, they require financing strategies that include both public and private capital to complete an overall funding plan. We are helping develop partnerships and advance planning processes through our experienced staff. We implemented a new collaboration initiative called PortTalk and can help with environmental Center (BATIC), we are exploring ways for P3s to leverage several federal financing programs. This joint venture approach may prove to be a valuable tool and can compliment TIGER grants, which have provided about $500 million to 40 ports to date. Our ports are silent economic engines and a national asset. They need investments in modern and efficient infrastructure to meet tomorrow's demands. Ports must be viewed as part of the surface transportation system, not stand-alone entities. And they need the tools and resources necessary to assure continued economic vitality now and in the future. For more information, please visit www.strongports. gov or call (202) 366-PORT. ● SUMMER 2015 * WWW.AAPASEAPORTS.COM 29 http://WWW.AAPASEAPORTS.COM

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