Transcript: Maritime Administrator Rear Admiral Ann Phillips (USN, Ret.) to the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey
Remarks as delivered by
Rear Admiral Ann Phillips (USN, Ret.)
At the 20th Annual Industry Day
Port Authority of New York & New Jersey
Thank you for that warm introduction. On behalf of the Department of Transportation and the Maritime Administration, I am pleased to have the opportunity to join you today, including my colleagues, General Lyons and Chairman Maffei, as well as Bethann and all of the leaders of the Port Authority.
INTRODUCTION TO THE MARITIME ADMINISTRATION
The Maritime Administration’s mission is to foster, promote, and develop the maritime industry of the United States to meet the nation’s economic and security needs. Among our many duties, we facilitate federal investments in America’s ports and waterways.
And this has been an extraordinary time at MARAD and, of course, throughout the Department of Transportation.
As you know, the Biden-Harris Administration has been committed from Day One to modernizing our infrastructure.
The President’s commitment has resulted in a once-in-a-generation investment in our ports and intermodal infrastructure to move goods more quickly, bring down shipping costs, strengthen supply chain resiliency, and to reduce the climate impacts of port operations themselves.
Frankly, these investments could not have come at a more critical time.
Record volumes of cargo have moved through our ports—including right here in New York and New Jersey, where volumes remain elevated at approximately 40% over pre-pandemic levels.
May became the second busiest month of cargo activity in the port’s history.
And ports around the world—certainly here in the U.S.—have had to contend with significant disruptions because of the pandemic.
We thank the many professionals throughout our supply chains—here at the ports of New York and New Jersey, at ports around the nation, on the rails, in truck cabs, and at our warehouses—who have met this challenge.
But we still have a lot more to do. Despite the herculean efforts of labor, these record volumes have been moving on generations-old infrastructure.
Now, thanks to President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, over the next five years, the Department of Transportation will award billions—billions with a “B”—of dollars in funding to modernize our ports and waterways.
Ports are eligible for funding under several of the Department’s major infrastructure grant programs—RAISE and INFRA—and, of course, under the Port Infrastructure Development Program and the America’s Marine Highways program. Today, I want to talk briefly about these many investment opportunities.
Let me start with the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) program, which provides support to help communities advance projects that modernize roads, bridges, transit and rail systems, ports, and intermodal transportation networks.
The total amount of funding available under the RAISE program this year was $2.275 billion—the majority of which comes from the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
On August 11, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced that the Biden-Harris Administration had awarded RAISE funding to more than 160 projects nationwide. Half of the money was designated for projects in rural areas and half was designated for urban areas. Nearly two-thirds of the projects are located in areas of persistent poverty or historically disadvantaged communities.
Ten of the 160 projects are port projects.
• For example, the Tampa Port Authority received $12.6 million to help construct a new berth of approximately 3,000-linear-feet capable of simultaneously docking three dry bulk/multi-purpose cargo vessels. Secretary Buttigieg visited the Port just a few weeks ago to see first-hand the impact this grant will make.
• The Saipan Commonwealth Ports Authority in the Northern Mariana Islands received $3.1 million to help plan potential improvements in the Saipan Harbor, including a dock extension, dredging in the entrance channel, and new seaplane ramps to enable larger vessels to dock at the port.
• And the North Carolina State Ports Authority received $18 million to help construct a state-of-the-art area for loading and discharging containers on and off rail at the Port of Wilmington.
All told, the ten port projects that received funding under the RAISE program were awarded more than $158 million in federal funds and have committed more than $93 million in matching funds.
And the RAISE program is just one of the DOT programs investing in ports.
MULTIMODAL PROJECT DISCRETIONARY GRANT PROGRAM
This year, the Department issued a new single notice of funding opportunity known as the Multimodal Project Discretionary Grant Program or “MPDG.”
The purpose of the MPDG is to reduce the workload on applicants and increase the pipeline of eligible projects by enabling entities seeking funding to submit one application and have it considered under three different programs:
• the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America, or “INFRA;”
• the National Infrastructure Project Assistance grant program, known as “MEGA;” and
• the Rural Surface Transportation Grant Program.
The MPDG can provide Federal financial assistance to a wide range of projects that will improve freight movement, including marine highways, as well as multi-modal projects and projects of national and regional significance.
The Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for the MPDG was published on March 25, 2022, and applications were due in mid-May. Funding for this overall program is $2.8 billion. Applications are still under review and awards anticipated by the end of the calendar year. The next round will open next year.
PORT INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM
Within DOT, the Maritime Administration is responsible for awarding more than $2 billion over the next five years in funding appropriated by the Bipartisan Infrastructure law through our Port Infrastructure Development Program.
To put this figure in perspective, the funding provided by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for PIDP alone is roughly the same amount of money that had been invested in ports by all DOT grant programs prior to the enactment of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law since the DOT began investing in ports with the 2009 Recovery Act.
On February 23, 2022, Secretary Buttigieg announced the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for the first round of funding for PIDP provided by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. This NOFO was released just three months after the law was enacted—ensuring that we could begin to get money out the door and to work in our ports as quickly as possible.
The first round of PIDP funding under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law totals $450 million—an investment that is almost double the amount provided last year and is the largest single investment in the program ever.
And an additional $234 million dollars was provided for the PIDP program in Fiscal Year 2022 appropriations, bringing the total amount of funding available this year to more than $680 million.
Investments supported by PIDP will help build new capacity at ports around the United States, improve cargo throughput, and eliminate bottlenecks to reduce the time and cost of shipping goods.
And, in keeping with the priorities of the Biden-Harris Administration, applications are also expected to explain whether and how proposed projects address environmental justice impacts and advance equity among other criteria.
Applications for this year’s PIDP funding were due in May—and we anticipate announcing awards in the Fall.
AMERICA’S MARINE HIGHWAY PROGRAM
We’re also making historic investments to support increased utilization of our nation’s inland and near coastal waterways to move freight.
The America’s Marine Highway Program is thriving. There are currently 29 Marine Highway Routes reaching 41 states, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories, and there are currently 56 Designated Marine Highway Projects.
Since 2010, the Marine Highways program has made 44 awards totaling approximately $51.7 million to 25 Designated Marine Highway Projects.
On March 2, 2022, the Maritime Administration announced the availability of $25 million in new funding for the America’s Marine Highways program.
This is the largest single appropriation of funding in the program’s history—and it was also made possible by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
And here too, the FY2022 appropriations measure increased funding—adding $14.8 million to the Marine Highway program, bringing the total amount of funding available under this program to $40 million. We anticipate announcing these awards in late September.
Put simply, thanks to President Biden’s leadership, we are now able to make the investments that will create the modern transportation system our nation needs to speed the movement of freight—supporting continued economic growth, lowering shipping costs, and ensuring that we can meet Americans’ demands now and into the future.
We appreciate the incredible work that you and ports around the nation have been doing and appreciate our strong partnership.
I also thank you for the opportunity to discuss these investments, and I encourage you to be in touch with MARAD through our local gateway offices to learn more about any grant opportunity. Thank you.