NEW YORK An
infrastructure bill that would provide funding for harbor
maintenance and port improvement is set to hit the floor of the
U.S. Senate in April or May. It will be the first of its kind
to do so in six years.
The Water Resources Development
Act of 2013 (WRDA) would allocate funds for harbor maintenance,
waterway improvements, flood-risk management, environmental
restoration and water supply and wastewater projects, among
other things. The bill was approved unanimously by the Senate
Committee on Environmental and Public Works (EPW) late last
The bill is traditionally passed
every two years, but this years WRDA would be the first
"(This bill) will make sure
(ports) are maintained at their dimensions. Lack of depth is
limiting our ability to operate at maximum
efficiencyespecially on bulk cargo, whether its
coal, grain, or steel," Jim Walker, director of navigation
policy and legislation at the American Association of Port
Authorities, told AMM.
"Youve got to make sure
the port facilities and the channels are going to be able to
make maximum use of this so that American goods can compete in
the global marketplace," he added.
However, not everyone was as
optimistic. "I cant say were overly enthusiastic
about the bill, because it doesnt include some of the
things that are important, such as project and program
authorizations," Thomas F. Donnelly, executive vice president
of the National Water Resources Association, told
Notably, the bill would require
that proceeds from the Harbor Maintenance Tax, a 0.125-percent
federal levy imposed on cargo values, be used for harbor
maintenance. Port and shipping interests have long argued that
the funds surplus wasnt being used as intended
amm.com, Sept. 24).
Editor's note: This story was updated April 5, 2013.
Due to an editing error, the article originally
misstated the amount of the Harbor Maintenance Tax Fund
surplus. The surplus is currently more than $7.1
billion and likely to be $8.1 billion by the end of 2013,
according the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.