The American Association of Port Authorities submitted written testimony to a Senate committee hearing on the nation’s surface transportation needs.
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee convened the hearing on America’s surface transportation needs Wednesday morning.
“Freight and specifically ports took a big step forward with the passage of the of the FAST Act. With the creation of two funding programs, Projects of Highway and Freight Significance (discretionary) and National Highway Freight Program (formula), the FAST Act provided a total of $11 billion in dedicated freight funding over five years,” AAPA said. “However, of the $11 billion, only $1.13 billion is multimodal eligible, far below what is needed to build out a 21st century multimodal freight network.
“Currently, only $200 million of multimodal eligibility remains in the INFRA account. Earlier this year, the American Association of Port Authorities identified more than $20 billion in multimodal needs for public port authorities alone over the next decade. A top priority for the port industry continues to be multimodal funding,” it said.
AAPA said funding levels and project eligibility are challenges.
“The current freight programs are funded out of the highway trust fund, which means that eligible projects are primarily highway focused. Highways are important to our freight network, but ports are multimodal facilitators, meaning rail, trucks and ships all need access to ports. One could argue that as our supply chain becomes more sophisticated and there are more inland distribution centers with the advent of ecommerce, multimodal funding will become even more in demand,” AAPA said.
AAPA said it strongly supports legislation (S. 3587) introduced by Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., that would repeal the multimodal cap on the discretionary grant program created in the FAST Act.
“The FAST Act has provided the programmatic framework for a 21st century multimodal freight network. However, to fully leverage the success of the FAST Act freight provisions, the next reauthorization bill will need to address increasing funding needs and identify a multimodal funding source or sources,” AAPA said.
AAPA said to address the funding shortfall, it supports raising the gas tax as well as a waybill fee concept.
Providing oral testimony during Wednesday’s hearing were Carlos Braceras, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials president; Bob Lanham, Associated General Contractors of America vice president; and James Corless, Sacramento Area Council of Governments executive director.