Port of Long Beach Rail Source Port of Long Beach
Source Port of Long Beach.

The port of Long Beach is the winner in the first round of funding from Washington for port and marine infrastructure development since President Biden signed the $1.2 trn infrastructure bill in November.

The California port has garnered a $52.3m grant, which will go towards its Pier B rail project.

Improvements to transport infrastructure are a large chunk of the bill, which almost doubled spending with a $550bn increase over the old setting.

Ports are in for $5bn in direct funding, of which $2.7bn goes to the Army Corps of Engineers for operations and maintenance ($1.2bn) and coastal navigation construction ($1.5bn), which leaves $2.25bn for port infrastructure development.

However, ports can apply for funding for individual projects from a separate pool of $27.1bn.

Funding for ports is a priority for the administration. The ‘Biden-Harris action plan for America’s ports and waterways’ published last autumn, stresses that outdated infrastructure and the pandemic have strained port capacity and supply chains.

The first round of funding from Washington releases $241m from the Maritime Administration’s port infrastructure development (MARAD) programme for 25 projects and Long Beach’s grant is a shot in the arm for its bid to improve fluidity by raising the share of containers that leave the port by rail.

The Pier B rail project, with an estimated price tag of $870m, aims to create capacity to handle 17 daily intermodal departures from the pier. This should enable the port to move more than one-third of its container volume by rail upon completion by 2032. The first phase of the project is slated to be ready in 2025.

Other west coast beneficiaries of the current round of MARAD funding are the Northwest Seaport Alliance, which will receive $15.7m for an off-dock container facility, and the port of Oakland, which will get $5.2m chiefly for electricity-related projects.

On the east coast, the largest grant, $24.9m, has been awarded to the port of Albany for its plans to develop 81 acres of adjacent vacant land into a manufacturing area for offshore wind energy, and to revamp 14.5 acres inside the port for this objective. This includes an access bridge and connector road, internal roads, berth dredging and construction of a 500ft heavy-capacity wharf.

Wind energy is also blowing $20m to Portsmouth to build a staging area for offshore wind projects, the port of Camden is getting $1m to purchase reach stackers, the Virginia Port Authority has been awarded $3m for upgrades to the Richmond terminal and Georgia Ports Authority will receive $14.6m to build a new ro-ro berth at the port of Brunswick.

And in the Gulf of Mexico, $18.2m flows to the port of Houston toward the development of a 39-acre container yard at the Bayport container terminal.

To boost flows on inland waterways Washington has allocated $25m, $1.4m of which is going to a new trailer-on-barge service from New Jersey to the Red Hook container terminal in Brooklyn for a package delivery service.

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