By Chris Dupin / www.americanshipper.com / May 22nd, 2018
Within the next decade, 77 percent of ports are planning on-dock, near-dock or rail-access projects.
In a new report, the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) highlights the need for improved rail connections to ports.
AAPA says its State of Freight III report found U.S. port authorities identifying more than $20 billion in projected multimodal port and rail access needs over the next decade. A third of those ports cited pressing rail projects costing at least $50 million.
“Of all the connections to ports, rail provides a unique, efficient and speedy method of moving cargo out of congested areas to distribution centers,” the report says. “In fact, rail access is so important to the port industry and supply chain that within the next 10 years, 77 percent of ports are planning on-dock, near-dock or rail-access projects.
“Ports and their private sector partners are already investing $155 billion over the next five years in their terminals including expansions, infrastructure investments and rail. In many cases these projects are waiting on their government partners to invest in the connections outside the gate that are under their jurisdiction. Because of the importance of rail and multimodal connections to the nation, the federal government must take a closer look at addressing the barriers to improved access and funding,” the report says.
While the 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act provided “the building blocks for a national freight program, more must be done to ensure that multimodal projects have adequate resources,” says AAPA, adding that two-thirds of ports report funding and financing options are the biggest initial obstacles in getting port rail access projects started.
“Of the $11 billion authorized in the FAST Act for freight investment, only $1.13 billion was eligible for multimodal projects — and this amount has already dwindled to $275 million after several rounds of FASTLANE and Infra Grants have been awarded,” says AAPA. “Ports need a multimodal funding source to sustain investments in their critical freight infrastructure.”
AAPA says, “The good news is that with 93 percent of ports reporting some form of rail access, the nation has a huge opportunity to improve existing connections and infrastructure, to increase cargo throughput and improve the economy.”
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