President Biden and Vice President Harris Release Action Plan for Ports and Waterways
WASHINGTON, DC - As supply chain woes continue to impact the United States, the Biden-Harris administration is strategizing to ease them. Recently, the administration revealed a comprehensive action plan to fortify America’s ports and waterways.
Together, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal is the single largest federal investment in our ports in U.S. history, a press release explained. Yesterday, the Biden-Harris administration announced a set of concrete steps to accelerate investments in U.S. ports, waterways, and freight networks, with goals and timelines set to mobilize federal agencies and lay the foundation for successful implementation of the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal.
According to The White House, this action plan will increase federal flexibilities for port grants; accelerate port infrastructure grant awards; announce new construction projects for coastal navigation, inland waterways, and land ports of entry; and launch the first round of expanded port infrastructure grants funded through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal.
As it works to fortify the U.S. supply chain, the Biden-Harris administration has announced several immediate actions:
- Support creative solutions to current supply chain disruptions by allowing for flexibility in port grants: The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) will allow port authorities across the country to redirect project cost savings toward tackling supply chain challenges. The Biden-Harris administration will continue to look for additional flexibilities and other solutions to support infrastructure needs in the goods movement supply chain
- Alleviate congestion at the Port of Savannah by funding the Georgia Port Authority pop-up container yards project: The Georgia Port Authority will be able to reallocate more than $8 million to convert existing inland facilities into five pop-up container yards in both Georgia and North Carolina. This effort will free up more dock space and speed up the flow of goods in and out of the Port of Savannah, which leads the nation in containerized agricultural exports
The administration also revealed the following near-term actions as part of its plan:
- Launch programs to modernize ports and marine highways with more than $240 million in grant funding within the next 45 days: The U.S. DOT will award $230 million in funding for this program and $13 million for the Marine Highway Program to support waterborne freight service
- Identify projects for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers construction at coastal ports and inland waterways within the next 60 days: This plan will provide a roadmap for more than $4 billion in funding to repair outdated infrastructure and deepen harbors for larger cargo ships
- Prioritize key ports of entry for modernization and expansion within the next 90 days: This plan will identify $3.4 billion in investments to upgrade obsolete inspection facilities and allow more efficient international trade through the northern and southern borders
- Open competition for the first round of port infrastructure grants funded through the bipartisan infrastructure deal within 90 days: The U.S. DOT will announce more than $475 million in additional funding for port and marine highway infrastructure
The ambitious action plan also includes data sharing to help support supply chains, as digital infrastructure plays a key role in its facilitation. The lack of data exchange tends to cause delays and inefficiencies as cargo moves from one part of the supply chain to another, driving up costs and increasing fragility. Thus, the administration has put plans in place to call for new data standards for goods movement. The U.S. DOT will work with the Federal Maritime Commission to publish a request for information on standardized data exchange requirements for goods movement in the transportation supply chain to ensure interoperability, greater transparency, resiliency, fluidity, competition, and efficiency.
The action plan also comprises an additional $110 billion in freight investments to fund transformative projects to revitalize critical elements of the nation’s transportation and supply chains. To help states and other grantees direct federal resources to transportation supply chain needs, the Biden-Harris administration plans to:
- Develop a comprehensive freight movement playbook to states: U.S. DOT will publish a playbook for States on how to use grant and loan programs across the Department to support goods movement and help alleviate freight bottlenecks. This playbook will highlight the policies, funding, and financing available to strengthen the supply chain
- Incorporate the best worldwide freight planning practices into state freight plans: U.S. DOT will develop and issue revised guidance on State Freight Plans that incorporates best worldwide freight planning practices. The BID strengthens the freight plans that States are currently required to produce to include supply chain cargo flows, an inventory of commercial ports, the impacts of e-commerce on freight infrastructure, and an assessment of truck parking facilities
To read the recently announced action plan in its entirety, click here.
ANUK will continue to report on the challenges impacting the supply chain, and the developments put in place to overcome them.