The chairman-elect of the American Association of Port Authorities’ (AAPA) Legislative Policy Committee, which sets policy for its US members, has told a US Senate committee hearing that building and maintaining the US’ 21st-century maritime infrastructure is “essential to the nation’s economic future”.
Testifying before a U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) hearing on “America’s Water Infrastructure Needs and Challenges”, William Friedman said that it was vital that port-related infrastructure was a part of any broad infrastructure investment legislation that the EPW Committee develops.
His address to the group, which took place on January 10, offered examples of water infrastructure issues faced by public ports and recommendations for Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) legislation to improve the US Army Corps of Engineers’ navigation programme.
In his speech, Mr Friedman – who is also president and chief executive of the Port of Cleveland – said that public ports and their private-sector partners were committed to constructing and maintaining the US’ maritime infrastructure for this century, with plans to invest upwards of $155bn between 2016 and 2020 in port-related facilities.
The AAPA, the Legislative Policy Committee chairman-elect said, has identified $66bn in possible federal waterside and landside investments over the next ten years that will help ensure benefits from an expected $155bn in port-related capital infrastructure spending.
After discussing the waterside aspect in more detail, he said: “The AAPA believes a significant federal investment would grow the US economy, increase family-wage supporting jobs, enhance America’s international competitiveness and generate additional tax revenues.”
With regards to WRDA legislation, Mr Friedman said it was “vitally important” for the legislation to be passed on a two-year cycle because it allows both major and smaller policy changes and improvements to be made, as well as the authorisation of navigation projects.
For the next Act, he called for revenues concerning the Harbor Maintenance Tax (a fee on US port use) to be provided directly to the US Army Corps of Engineers; for navigation project improvements recommended in the Chief of Engineers’ reports to be authorised and proceeded with; and for further streamlining improvements.