US port investment $16 billion short

9/26/2012

A Failure to Act report issued by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) concludes that the US must invest more to fill infrastructure gaps. Without the needed investments, transporting goods will become costlier, prices will rise, and the country will become less competitive in the global market.

The report focuses on aging marine ports and inland waterway infrastructures, as well as airports.

The report asserts that US$30 billion must be invested in the nation’s marine ports and inland waterways between now and 2020, compared with planned expenditures of about $14.4 billion – leaving an investment gap of $15.8 billion. 

According to ASCE, the additional investment wwould protect $270 billion in US exports.

Andrew Herrmann, President of ASCE, said: “Congestion and delays lead to goods waiting on docks and in warehouses for shipment, which in turn leads to higher transport costs and higher-priced products on store shelves.

“If we don’t close the investment gaps, everyone is going to feel the negative impact, because we are on course to lose more than one million jobs and more than $1 trillion in personal income by 2020.”

With the planned expansion of the Panama Canal by 2015, the average size of containerships is expected to increase significantly, impacting major US ports that handle containerised cargo. To address this challenge, US marine ports need funds for harbour and channel dredging, and inland waterways require new or rehabilitated lock and dam facilities, he added.

The US has 300 commercial ports, 12,000 miles of inland and intra-coastal waterways and about 240 lock chambers, which carry more than 70% of the country’s imports by tonnage and just over half of imports by value. 

Congresswoman Janice Hahn of California, co-founder of the Congressional PORTS Caucus, said: “The study shows the urgency of investing in this critical component of our infrastructure and what the cost will be to every American family if we fail to recognise the importance of our nation’s ports.”