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The U.S. Maritime Administration issued $220 million in discretionary grants on October 15 to improve port facilities in 15 states and territories through its Port Infrastructure Development Program.

[Above photo by the Port of New Orleans.]

Of the 18 projects that received grants, eight are located in Opportunity Zones – created to help revitalize economically distressed communities using private investments.

Rear Admiral Mark “Buz” Buzby USN (Ret.)

“These grants will help our nation’s economy and ensure that America’s ports can continue to operate effectively in the competitive global marketplace,” noted Rear Admiral Mark “Buz” Buzby USN (Ret.), MARAD’s administrator, in a statement.

He added that MARAD’s Port Infrastructure Development Program aims to support efforts by ports and industry stakeholders to improve facility and freight infrastructure to meet the nation’s freight transportation needs by providing planning, operational, and capital financing, and project management assistance to improve their capacity and efficiency.

That program issued more than $280 million in discretionary grants in February to support 15 projects in 11 states, with six of those projects located in opportunity zones.

MARAD also released a new Marine Highway module on October 8 for its Port Planning and Investment Toolkit, which helps U.S. ports plan, evaluate, and finance freight transportation projects.

The toolkit – produced as part of a cooperative agreement between MARAD and the American Association of Port Authorities – helps ports develop long-term “investment-grade” project plans. The new module will provide an overview of the agency’s marine highway program, how to implement new marine highway plans, determine their feasibility, and identify possible funding mechanisms for them.

Photo by the Missouri DOT

The agency added that the overarching goal of the Port Planning and Investment Toolkit is to provide U.S. ports with a “common framework” and examples of best practices, as well as a guide for state agencies seeking to qualify for formula funding or aid.

“By working together, we are helping to support investments in our ports that will pay dividends for years to come,” said Buzby in a separate statement.

“I am pleased that the new module of the toolkit focuses on investments in America’s Marine Highways, which can help reduce traffic congestion and related pollution by moving cargoes off our crowded highways and onto to our nation’s navigable waterways,” he added.

editor@aashto.org

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