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DOT spending $220 million to speed cargo at 18 ports

Latest round of grants includes money for intermodal hubs to ease truck and rail freight flows

Port of L.A. receiving $9.9 million to improve container flow. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) on Thursday released $220 million in federal funds for 18 coastal and inland ports aimed at speeding freight through the supply chain.

Rail and truck connections were highlighted at 11 of the 18 facilities receiving money. Eight of the grantees are located in “opportunity zones” created to improve economically distressed communities.

This latest round of Port Infrastructure Development Program (PIDP) funding, made through the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD), part of DOT, follows $280 million in competitive grants for 15 projects awarded through the PIDP earlier this year.

“This critical investment demonstrates the Trump administration’s commitment to supporting our nation’s ports and maritime industry,” commented MARAD Administrator Mark Buzby. “These grants will help our nation’s economy and ensure that America’s ports can continue to operate effectively in the competitive global marketplace.”

The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA), which praised the grants, pointed out that legislation drafted by federal lawmakers in July includes $1.3 billion for the PIDP next year.

“Should it be appropriated, the $1.3 billion…more closely resembles the current unmet infrastructure needs of America’s ports, based on the large number of PIDP grant requests this year that went unfunded,” commented AAPA President and CEO Christopher Connor.

The biggest award went to the Crown Bay Terminal Improvements Project in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands — $21.9 million to modernize cargo handling and storage to ease freight movement in and out of the port.

The Port of Virginia received $20.2 million for rail yard expansion at the Norfolk International Terminals container complex. The project includes creating a return access road that will separate rail dray traffic returning to the container yard from general truck traffic. The port announced this week its best performance for the month of September in container business, up 6.2% over September 2019.

Other grants awarded that are aimed at improving port container capacity include $16.1 million at the Port of Wilmington, North Carolina, for a high-tech container gate; $13.2 million at the Port of Palm Beach, Florida, for developing on-dock intermodal rail; and $9.9 million at the Port of Los Angeles for a critical highway interchange that serves two of the ports container terminals.

A full list of grant awards can be found here.

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John Gallagher

Based in Washington, D.C., John specializes in regulation and legislation affecting all sectors of freight transportation. He has covered rail, trucking and maritime issues since 1993 for a variety of publications based in the U.S. and the U.K. John began business reporting in 1993 at Broadcasting & Cable Magazine. He graduated from Florida State University majoring in English and business.