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$4 Billion Will Help Key Ports Handle Bigger Boats

Billions of dollars are on their way to hundreds of critical infrastructure projects.

The Biden-Harris administration announced Wednesday it will invest more than $14 billion of funding from the Infrastructure Law in fiscal year 2022 for more than 500 projects across 52 states and territories to strengthen the nation’s supply chain, open up nationwide economic opportunities and fortify the country’s defenses against climate change.

The projects include expanding capacity at some of the nation’s largest and fastest-growing ports, including the Port of Long Beach. Building on the work the administration has done in the past year to get goods flowing from ships to shelves faster, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is committing $4 billion through the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for capacity expansions enabling key ports to accommodate bigger vessels and further enhance America’s ability to move goods. These waterside investments will compliment landside investments at U.S. ports and across the goods movement chain such as the Port Infrastructure Development Grants announced in December.

The White House said American ports and waterways are a cornerstone of the U.S. economy, citing the 2021 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure Report issued by the American Society of Civil Engineers that said in 2018, America’s ports supported more than 30 million jobs and approximately 26 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product. However, decades of neglect and underinvestment have strained their capacity and jeopardized supply chains.

Leaders at California’s Port of Long Beach will invest $8 million to improve commercial navigation and allow larger and more ships to pass at Long Beach–part of the nation’s largest port complex along with the Port of Los Angeles. The investment will support design work to widen the port’s main channel, deepen the entrance channel, and build an approach channel and turning basin. It also builds on the $52 million grant the White House previously announced to support the Port of Long Beach’s on-dock rail facility, as well as a multibillion-dollar loan agreement with California to modernize the state’s ports, freight and other goods movement infrastructure.

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The administration will also invest $69 million to improve navigation and expand capacity at Norfolk Harbor, Va., which handled 67 percent more containers in 2021 than it did 10 years ago. Work will include deepening and widening the harbor’s shipping channels to improve navigation and enable safer access for larger commercial and naval vessels, and to provide significant new economic opportunities to the region.

Recognizing the role of inland waterways in creating and sustaining jobs, relieving land-side congestion and providing more cost-effective transportation capacities, the White House will provide $858 million to support the replacement of locks that keep water levels high enough for large cargo ships to pass through the upper Ohio River, west of Pittsburgh. The administration will also provide more than $470 million to complete construction of a new lock along St. Mary’s River in Sault Saint Marie, Mich., which serves as a passageway for nearly all domestically produced iron ore. These funds will build on the Department of Transportation’s recent investments to enhance the movement of goods along the nation’s navigable waterways.

In other areas, the White House will commit $5.5 billion through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to better protect communities from climate change, and protect vital ecosystems and the people and businesses throughout the country that rely on them. This will see the Army Corps invest $1.1 billion to restore, protect and preserve the South Florida ecosystem and increase its resilience to the impacts of climate change. These funds will support improvements to the Everglades by capturing and storing excess surface water runoff, reducing excess water releases to water conservation areas, and minimizing seepage losses during dry periods.

In addition to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funds, the administration will invest more than $5.7 billion in fiscal year 2022 through the Disaster Relief and Supplemental Appropriations Act to reinforce disaster mitigation and recovery efforts in communities recovering from extreme weather events, and to better enable homes and businesses to reduce their risks of climate change. This includes $3.3 billion in funding for Louisiana, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, where major disasters were declared due to Hurricane Ida.