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AAPA finds big gap between ports, US federal plans to invest in capital projects

AAPA finds big gap between ports, US federal plans to invest in capital projects

US member ports and their private sector partners plan to spend a whopping $154.8bn on freight and passenger infrastructure investments over the next five years, according to a newly released survey by the American Association of Port Authorities.

AAPA contrasted that number with what it believes is the best-case scenario for investments by the federal government into US ports, including land- and water-side connections: $24.8bn.

According to AAPA president and ceo Kurt Nagle, the gap between the two amounts poses concerns, particularly considering the need to increase government investments in federal navigation channels and the 'first-and-last mile' connections with ports. It’s vital, Nagle said, that the federal government uphold its end of the partnership.

Nagle added that seaport investments are in the nation's interest because they provide opportunities to bolster the economy, create and sustain jobs, enhance international competitiveness and pay annual dividends through the generation of more than $321bn in federal, state and local tax revenue.

'From a jobs standpoint, goods moved through America’s seaports in 2014 supported employment of more than 23 million US workers … up from 13.3 million in 2007,' he said.

Economist John C. Martin, president of Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based Martin Associates, said US Bureau of Economic Analysis formulas show that investing nearly $155bn in capital projects at US ports would create about 1.6m direct, indirect and induced domestic jobs, accounting for approximately 3.3bn person-hours of work over the period of the investment.

'Those are really significant job numbers,' Martin said. 'In 2014, the US coastal ports also generated $4.6 trillion dollars for the US economy, about 26 percent of the US Gross Domestic Product. From a dollars-and-cents perspective, it’s hard to over-emphasize the value of investing in ports, particularly when you factor in how much these investments contribute to our overall economic prosperity and help lower the cost of imports and make our exports more competitive overseas.'

The combined $155bn, five-year investment that US ports and their private sector partners are planning represents a more than three-fold increase over the combined $46bn figure obtained from the same survey five years ago. The biggest project investments will be in ports along the US Gulf Coast, where many new energy processing, production and transfer facilities are being planned.

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