U.S. maritime ports are critical links in the U.S. domestic and international trade supply-chain. Ports serve as centers of commerce where freight and commodities are transferred between cargo ships, barges, trucks, trains, and pipelines.
It is the goal of MARAD's Port Infrastructure Development Program to support efforts by ports and port stakeholders to improve port and freight infrastructure to ensure our Nation's future freight transportation needs will be met. This program provides planning, stakeholder engagement, operational and capital financing, and project management assistance to ports and port stakeholders to improve their capacity and efficiency.
The Port Infrastructure and Development Program was authorized by Congress as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 (Public Law 111-84). The legislation states that "The Secretary of Transportation, through the Maritime Administrator, shall establish a port infrastructure development program for the improvement of port facilities."
The law specifically authorizes the Administrator to:
- Receive funds provided for the project from Federal, non-Federal, and private entities that have a specific agreement or contract with the Administrator to further the purposes of this subsection;
- Coordinate with other Federal agencies to expedite the process established under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) for the improvement of port facilities to improve the efficiency of the transportation system, to increase port security, or to provide greater access to port facilities;
- Seek to coordinate all reviews or requirements with appropriate local, State, and Federal agencies; and
- Provide such technical assistance and financial assistance, including grants, to port authorities or commissions or their subdivisions and agents as needed for project planning, design, and construction.
The authorizing legislation also established a Port Infrastructure Development Fund for use by the Administrator in carrying out projects under the program. The fund is available for the Administrator to:
- Administer and carry out projects under the program;
- Receive Federal, non-Federal, and private funds from entities which have specific agreements or contracts with the Administrator; and
- Make refunds for projects that will not be completed.
There are also additional legislative provisions for the crediting and transfer of monies into the fund.