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MARCH 27, 2018

Good morning and thank you for that kind introduction Griff (Lynch, Executive Director of GPA). MARAD has had a long and productive relationship with the Georgia Ports Authority, and it’s an honor to be here to celebrate this important groundbreaking.

The United States has always been a great maritime nation, but we know that if we are to continue as the number one economy in the world – with the world’s strongest military – we must continue to invest in our maritime industry.

Because in today’s fiercely competitive global shipping market, a profitable and resilient marine transportation industry is vital to our national security, and to a growing, prospering economy.

At its best, the maritime industry is a diverse, interconnected, multi-modal enterprise seamlessly integrated with landside transportation modes.

We’re not there yet, as a nation, but the Port of Savannah International Multi-Modal Connector is a significant step toward that ideal. Not only for this region but nationally.
In truth, projects like these are a model for the rest of the nation – something we continually promote. It’s the result of smart, collaborative planning, hard work, and strategic investment.

By expanding your multi-modal capacity and interconnectivity, the movement of containers through this port to and from major population centers across the nation will be drastically improved.

As a nation, we do not have the luxury of allowing our ports to become obsolete… or for our rivers and waterways, locks and dams that support inland waterborne commerce to slowly decay. We must respond, or as an industry suffer a slow death.

We must stop conceding new technologies and market share to our international competitors. The goal is to make maritime commercial transportation a fast and routine option for your customers to get their goods to market.

Fortunately, our industry has a proven track record of long-lasting economic benefits from these types of major infrastructure investments.

Smart intermodal investments create jobs, ease congestion, reduce pollution and fuel consumption while decreasing wear and tear on highways.

Ports are powerful economic engines in their own right. But those that have quick, efficient connections to roads, rail, pipelines, inland waterways, and can move regional products to international markets, are especially potent.
That’s your future here at the Port of Savannah, once this project is complete.

Its impact on cargo fluidity in this region, eliminating time and money-wasting delays now choking freight movement out of the port, will translate into economic benefits nationwide.

These are the kinds of “transformative” projects highlighted in the president’s new infrastructure plan. In addition to encouraging greater state, local and private investment in major infrastructure projects, the infrastructure plan will dramatically accelerate and simplify complex review processes that stall, and sometimes kill, important projects.

Its provisions will incentivize new technologies and alternative methods that transform the way projects are completed. We’re really hoping that it serves as a fresh opportunity — and a catalyst — to re-energize our industry and stimulate long overdue investments in maritime infrastructure.

As an industry we face many challenges, of that we can all agree. But if managed properly — and creatively — like you are doing here in Savannah, hard challenges will only push us to greater heights and usher in an exciting future for the U.S. maritime industry.

On behalf of my colleagues at the maritime administration and transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao, I congratulate you. Thank you and good luck.

Updated: Monday, November 19, 2018