Chao Announces $220 Million In Port Grants

Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao announced on October 15 the award of more than $220 million in discretionary grant funding to improve port facilities in 16 states and territories through the Maritime Administration’s (MarAd) Port Infrastructure Development Program. While only one of the 18 grant winners—the Port of Kansas City—is an inland-only port, three others—Brownsville and Port Arthur, Texas, and Burns Harbor, Ind.—are mixed coastal or Great Lakes ports with substantial barge traffic. Avondale Shipyard in Louisiana also got a grant to convert a wharf to a modern dock.

“This $220 million in federal grants will improve America’s ports with nearly half the projects … located in Opportunity Zones, which were established to revitalize economically distressed communities,” Chao said in a press release.

The Port Infrastructure Development Program aims to support efforts by ports and industry stakeholders to improve facility and freight infrastructure to ensure that the nation’s freight transportation needs, present and future, are met. The program provides planning, operational and capital financing and project management assistance to improve their capacity and efficiency.

“This critical investment demonstrates the Trump Administration’s commitment to supporting our nation’s ports and maritime industry,” Maritime Administrator Mark H. Buzby said. “These grants will help our nation’s economy and ensure that America’s ports can continue to operate effectively in the competitive global marketplace.”

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The five inland or mixed grant recipients are:

• Burns Harbor, Ind.; Bulk Storage Facility ($4,000,000)
The project will convert a vacant gravel yard into a multimodal bulk storage facility. It will create supply chain improvements in the safe, efficient and reliable transportation of bulk cargoes. It will also generate benefits including reducing transportation costs, minimizing highway congestion and maintenance costs, reducing environmental impacts and improving transportation safety.

• Avondale, La.; Dock Conversion Project ($9,880,000). This grant will help convert a former Avondale Shipyard wharf to a modern cargo dock. Once transformed, the dock will enable the Avondale Industrial Marine District (AIMD) port facility to handle dry bulk and breakbulk cargoes more effectively in general commerce from the west bank of the Mississippi River and will also help to improve truck traffic flow. This project is in an Opportunity Zone.

• Kansas City, Mo., Missouri River Terminal Intermodal Facility ($9,880,000). This grant will be used to provide regional access to the marine river , rail and highway transportation network. This project includes advanced project planning and redevelopment activities of the terminal site such as preventative flooding maintenance, environmental remediation efforts, site design, land acquisition and limited pavement and rail access development. The project is in an opportunity zone.

• Brownsville, Texas; Grain & Bulk Handling Facility Development, Expansion and Upgrade Project ($14,504,850). This grant will support the development, expansion and upgrade of a grain and bulk handling facility. The project consists of fixed landside, rail and road improvements, as well as related planning and other development activities. Once completed, the project will improve the safety, efficiency and reliability of the movement of goods. The project is in an Opportunity Zone.

• Port Arthur, Texas; Transit Shed 1 Replacement ($9,722,223). This grant will support the replacement of aging critical port infrastructure while improving cargo mobility and productivity. The project will include the deconstruction and removal of a metal clad dockside transit shed, reconditioning of a concrete slab, the erection of a building providing useable storage and a covered area for all-weather truck and rail loading.