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More funding now flowing to U.S. ports for modernization projects

By Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships Inc.

American ports, even those that are among the busiest in the world, have faced near-crippling levels of congestion since the outbreak of COVID. Supply chain back-ups have also had a negative impact. The smaller ports especially have scrambled to meet demand, but it is obvious that operational inadequacies at all U.S. ports must be addressed. Now, significant public investment is opening up for port projects of all types.

With funding support from the federal government, port authorities in each coastal region are being upgraded, modernized and electrified. The goal is sustainability because America’s ports are huge contributors to the country’s GDP.

Most of the improvements will apply to deficiencies in cargo handling because container vessels idling outside of ports have consistently increased over the past three years. This issue must be addressed, and U.S. ports must improve their capabilities. Immediate needs and objectives include electrifying cargo handling equipment, upgrading shore power, enhancing electric grid infrastructure and exploring new port-side applications for hydrogen energy.

To assist with all this, the federal government is disbursing billions of dollars to ports through grant programs. The Inflation Reduction Act allocates $3 billion to fund acquisition and installation of zero-emission equipment at ports. Another $1 billion is available to help port authorities electrify their fleets of heavy-duty vehicles. Additionally, $662 million is available through the Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration. Very soon, 50 funding grants to support projects that improve efficiency and reliability of port operations will be announced.

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