Background

The Biden administration announced Nov. 9 a number of additional measures that will “lay the foundation for successful implementation” of a bipartisan infrastructure deal reached in Congress this week. A White House fact sheet said that agreement includes $17 billion to improve infrastructure at coastal ports, inland ports and waterways, and ports of entry along U.S. borders, including both near-term assistance and long-term investments to strengthen supply chain resiliency.

Two steps will be taken immediately: (1) allowing port authorities across the country to redirect project cost savings toward tackling supply chain challenges, and (2) funding a project to convert existing inland facilities in Georgia and North Carolina into five popup container yards, which will free up dock space and speed goods flow in and out of the port of Savannah, which leads the nation in containerized agricultural exports.

Additionally, within the next 90 days the administration plans to: (1) award $230 million in funding for the Port Infrastructure Development Grant program and $13 million for the Marine Highway Program to modernize ports and marine highways, (2) develop a roadmap for more than $4 billion in funding to the Army Corps of Engineers to repair outdated infrastructure and deepen harbors for larger cargo ships, (3) identify $3.4 billion in investments to upgrade obsolete inspection facilities and allow more efficient trade across borders with Mexico and Canada, and (4) open competition for the first round of grants funded through the bipartisan infrastructure deal that will provide more than $475 million for port and marine highway infrastructure.

Over the longer term, the administration intends to help states direct federal resources to transportation supply chain needs by: (1) publishing a playbook on how to use Department of Transportation grant and loan programs to support goods movement and help alleviate freight bottlenecks, (2) strengthening the freight plans states are already required to produce to include supply chain cargo flows, an inventory of commercial ports, the impacts of e-commerce on freight infrastructure, and an assessment of truck parking facilities, and (3) publishing a request for information on standardized data exchange requirements for goods movement in the transportation supply chain.

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