The United States ports plan to spend a whopping USD 154.8 billion on port-related infrastructure over the next five years, the 2016-2020 Port Planned Infrastructure Investment Survey conducted by the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) shows.
The combined USD 155 billion investment that U.S. ports and their private sector partners are planning represents a more than three-fold increase over the combined USD 46 billion figure obtained from the same survey five years ago, AAPA said.
The biggest project investments are targeting ports along the U.S. Gulf Coast, where many new energy processing, production and transfer facilities are being planned. The investment is expected to see some USD 122 bn spent in the region’s port infrastructure, followed by USD 9 bn intended for South Atlantic and USD 7 bn for South Pacific.
The amount is significantly higher from the “best-case” scenario for investments by the federal government into U.S. ports through 2020, which stands at USD 24.8 billion, AAPA said.
AAPA President and CEO Kurt Nagle believes that the vast difference between the two ifigures 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.
“Infrastructure investments in America’s seaports and their intermodal connections – both on the land and in the water – are in our nation’s best interest because they provide opportunities to bolster our economy, create and sustain jobs, enhance our international competitiveness, and pay annual dividends through the generation of more than USD 321 billion in federal, state and local tax revenue,” said Nagle.
Economist John C. Martin, Ph.D., president of Lancaster, Pa.-based Martin Associates, said U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis formulas show that investing nearly USD 155 billion in capital projects at U.S. ports would create about 1.6 million direct, indirect and induced domestic jobs.
When reviewing the anticipated five-year federal investment in port-related infrastructure, AAPA found that the federal government has historically under-invested in the nation’s goods movement system, especially when it comes to road transportation network and maintenance of federal navigation channels.
According to the American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) 2012 Failure to Act report, by 2020 there will be a USD 15.8 billion investment gap between expected annual federal funding on goods movement infrastructure and what’s needed to effectively maintain the system. ASCE estimated the cost of deficient and deteriorating highways to American businesses will have grown ten-fold between 2010 and 2020, to USD 276 billion. Similarly by 2020, shallow, narrow navigation channels will result in a USD 9.3 billion annual trade loss to U.S. businesses from the inability of most ports to accommodate today’s larger ships.
To this end the US government enacted the FAST Act surface transportation bill at the end of 2015 that authorized USD 11 billion in new funding for land-side freight improvements through 2020.