AAPA study shows $20bn+ of access needs

According to the report, 77% of ports are planning on-dock, near-dock or rail access projects within the next decade Photo: MichaelGaida/Pixabay/CC0 Creative Commons According to the report, 77% of ports are planning on-dock, near-dock or rail access projects within the next decade Photo: MichaelGaida/Pixabay/CC0 Creative Commons

Port members of the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) have identified over $20bn in predicted multimodal port and rail access requirements in the next 10 years, with a third of ports identifying pressing rail project needs costing over $50m.

That’s according to the AAPA’s The State of Freight III – Rail Access and Port Multimodal Funding Needs Report (SOF III), which saw all of AAPA’s stateside US Corporate members respond to the survey and follow-up questions.

According to the document, 77% of ports are planning on-dock, near-dock or rail access projects within the next decade.

Over the next five years, ports and their private sector partners are spending $155bn on their terminals, including expansions, infrastructure investments and rail, the report claimed.

Additionally, SOF III said that of the $11bn permitted in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act for freight investment, only $1.13bn was eligible for multimodal projects, with this amount having already dropped to $275m after the awarding of several rounds of Fostering Advancements in Shipping and Transportation for the Long-term Achievement of National Efficiencies (FASTLANE) and Infrastructure For Rebuilding America (INFRA) Grants.

Rail requirements

In response to the question “What are your pressing rail projects/needs?”, “Distribution centre” and “On-dock rail” both saw 47.5% of respondents choose these options, and 42.4% chose “Grade separation”.

Regarding the question “What are the greatest barriers for your port to have improved rail access?”, 66.7% of those surveyed chose “Funding/financing options”, while 37.2% went for “Crossings/overpasses/tunnels” and 35.9% went for “Land acquisition”.

42.9% of respondents felt that over a quarter more of extra throughput capacity could be added to their port with improved rail access, while 31.4% felt it was “15% to 20% more” and 25.7% thought it was “5% to 10% more”.

Commenting on the report, AAPA president and chief executive Kurt Nagle said in a release: “The findings show that while the FAST Act has been essential in providing the building blocks for a national freight programme, more must be done to ensure that multimodal goods movement projects have adequate resources to produce efficient and timely results.

“These transportation projects are crucial to address our nation’s increasing freight volumes and enhance America’s international competitiveness.”

He later added that America’s ports had identified “a vast array of projects which are ready for investment and could move forward if the issues in this report could be addressed” and it was important that steps were taken to resolve the barriers identified in the study that are preventing the progression of these ventures.

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