October 23 - The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) is encouraged to see new freight provisions contained in the Surface Transportation Reauthorization & Reform Act of 2015 (STRR), which was introduced and approved this week.
For the AAPA, a key provision in the six-year bill is a Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects grants programme in which ports are eligible to compete. Another key aspect important to ports is a title to address policies and planning for multimodal freight transportation, said the association.
In addition, the bill expands the National Highway Freight Network to include highway connections to critical facilities, such as ports and intermodal facilities, and requires establishment of a national freight strategic plan - all of which address port needs in the planning process.
"We are encouraged that the House surface transportation legislation has language in it that focuses on the nation's freight needs to improve the flow of goods moving to and from our nation's ports," said Kurt Nagle, AAPA president and ceo. "We are now working to ensure that robust, sustainable freight provisions are a key focus in the final legislation crafted between the House and Senate versions of the bill."
The STRR funding package would provide grants for large-scale projects of national or regional significance, says the AAPA, including, for the first time, intermodal connections with ports.
Funding would be set at USD4.5 billion for the 2016-2021 fiscal years, with an additional USD200 million per year in credit assistance authorised for the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) programme to help finance qualified capital projects.