Fresh plans needed for US infrastructure

Industry Database

Economist Walter Kemmsies, from JLL Ports, has cautioned that, amid excellent economic performance, congestion has worsened in the US due to underinvestment in transport infrastructure throughout the US.

Speaking at the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) "Planning for Shifting Trade" conference, Dr Kemmsies said that fresh approaches to infrastructure investment are needed.

This year's event coincided with President Donald Trump's 'State of the Union' address which included pledges on improving US transport infrastructure.

A financial panel, which included Seabury Port Finance's Henry Juan and Franc Pigna from Aegir LLC Port Property Advisors, discussed the backdrop and mechanics for bringing private investment into the financing mix, with Mr Juan stating: "Public-private partnerships have been found to be win-win arrangements for everyone."

During the panel discussion, Port of Tampa Bay chief financial officer, Mike Macaluso, detailed a complex project involving five entities, dubbed "5P", while Mr Pigna highlighted a radical solution now evolving in the US: privatising port authorities, as has been done in Rotterdam and Brisbane, among others.

One dominant theme emerging over the two-day conference concerned the changing nature of inland distribution, and getting products from the vessel into the hands of consumers as e-commerce continues to eclipse conventional retail. Presentations from Dr Kemmsies and others, including property expert John Morris from Cushman & Wakefield, emphasised the new capital requirements that are emerging as retail supply chains move towards same-day distribution, particularly around urban areas, and complementing distribution centres erected during an earlier wave of logistics transformation.

Throughout the conference, there was an undercurrent of technological change throughout the discussions. Kuehne & Nagel's vice president of strategic development, Bill Rooney suggested that blockchain, artificial intelligence/machine learning, and new tagging/locating technologies would dramatically change the face of logistics.

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