Port Infrastructure: Transportation for the Economy

Article excerpt

Earlier this month, 42 construction projects and 33 planning projects were awarded the second round of the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants. About 17 percent of the construction project awards went to port infrastructure, a huge increase from the first round of TIGER grants, where only about 8 percent went to port infrastructure.

This increase in funding emphasizes the importance of investment in port infrastructure, not only because of its impact on local economic development, but more broadly speaking, because of its impact on the nation's economic growth.

Commodities, finished products, automobiles and people--via the cruise industry--pass through the 300-plus ports in this country. The volume of products and people moving in and out of ports has a variety of direct and indirect impacts on the local, regional and national economies, such as job creation, revenues and a standing in the global market place.

According .to 2007. statistics from the American Association of Port Authorities, ports created more than' 13.3 million American jobs, some $3.95 trillion in international trade, and more than $23.2 billion in U.S. Customs duty revenues in that year. Maintaining these centers of trade is vital for economic stability.

One of the major issues surrounding ports is obtaining the funding needed for infrastructural improvements. On the sea side, ports that do not have the capacity to manage the volume coming into their facilities face congestion and environmental issues, as cargo ships idle waiting to drop off their goods. This is further worsened when port channels are not deep enough to dock at the berths. Dredging -removing the sediment in waterways to create deeper channels--is important, as most ports are not located in naturally deep harbors to accommodate incoming cargo ships.

Moving goods off of container ships onto land-side connections is another issue, requiring clear and easy access to and from truck and rail facilities, and roads and rail lines. Idling goods: at port facilities result in huge delays, increased congestion and higher transportation costs. …