CMAQ Repower Program Is Making A Difference At The Port Of Pittsburgh

The Port of Pittsburgh is clearing the air, and in the process, helping to create a more efficient fleet of shipping companies, ports and terminals along the Three Rivers. Back in 2013, the Port of Pittsburgh was officially awarded a $12 million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation (Federal Highway Administration), as part of  its Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Program (CMAQ), to provide funding for diesel retrofits to qualifying vessels in the port’s 12-county area. The program itself is simple: the port sought out applicants for retrofits of existing diesel-powered vessels and has offered a 50/50 match to assist in the repower of a qualifying vessel. In many cases, the towboats may be operating with engines and power systems dating back as far as the 1960s and ‘70s.

The retrofits take into account most major expenses and costs related to repower a vessel.  Reimbursable costs can include: engines, generators, reduction gears, shafts/props/coolers and even labor. New engine specifications must show a significant air quality improvement, meeting or exceeding existing EPA requirements. After funding is granted, the port operates as the overall administrator and works closely with the companies to develop detailed progress reports including invoices, inspections, documentation of the engines being scrapped and quarterly reports.

Since the program’s inception, the Port of Pittsburgh has helped fund retrofit projects for nearly 40 vessels and has worked with more than a dozen individual companies in the Pittsburgh area. In many cases,  applicants have returned to fund multiple vessel retrofits. As the program comes to a close in 2021, the port is working to complete its remaining contracted vessels and continue to do its part to support the river industry in the southwestern Pennsylvania region.

Sign up for Waterway Journal's weekly newsletter.Our weekly newsletter delivers the latest inland marine news straight to your inbox including breaking news, our exclusive columns and much more.