Navigation Projects Endorsed

The House of Representatives version of the Water Resources Development Act of 2007 was passed on April 19th by a vote of 394-25. When the Senate passed its version by a vote of 91-4, it drew a positive response from the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA). “AAPA and our member ports have worked hard to get this crucial piece of legislation through the House and Senate,” said Kurt Nagle, AAPA president. He went on to note that the ports depend on federal funding for, among other things, improvements in federal navigation channels. Though the authorization legislation is supposed to biennial, it has been seven years since the last Water Resources Development Act was passed. In the intervening years, demand has accelerated.

Various waterside infrastructure needs are addressed, including projects for deepening navigation channels and policy provisions to improve the Corps of Engineers project implementation process.

As if to reinforce the need, the Port of Portland announced that just a year after Yang Ming began its new service to Portland, the liner company doubled capacity by replacing the container ships serving the port with 3,500 twenty-foot-equivalent unit (TEU) vessels.

At nearly the same time, the Port of Houston Authority and Port of Galveston announced an agreement to develop a new container-handling facility on Pelican Island. The memorandum of understanding between the two ports stipulates that the finance and development of the facility would not begin until after 2015 when the Bayport Container Terminal is expected to be fully built out, say port officials. “With the expansion of the Panama Canal, the West Gulf region is in prime position to take advantage of future growth in the maritime industry,” said Benny Holland, chairman of the board of trustees of the Port of Galveston.

On the East Coast, the Port of New York and New Jersey announced an agreement under which the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan will acquire the remaining 12 years of the Howland Hook lease from the Orient overseas International Ltd. The Port Authority says the agreement will protect the Port Authority’s “significant public investment in Staten Island’s maritime facility and will ensure the long-term health and growth of the port.”

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