At a time when delays in the freight supply chain are in the spotlight, the U.S. Dept. of Transportation has awarded $241 million to 25 projects aimed at improving port infrastructure.

The winning projects, which U.S. DOT announced on Dec. 23, are in 19 states and Puerto Rico and include coastal, inland river and Great Lakes locations. They come from the department’s Maritime Administration, through its Port Infrastructure Development Program. 

[View list of projects here.]

Lucinda Lessley, the Maritime Administration's acting administrator, said in a statement, "These investments will support the shift to cleaner transportation, which will create more economic activity and good-paying jobs."

The program predates the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). That legislation, signed into law on Nov. 15, includes an additional $450 million annually for five years for the port development grants program.

The American Association of Port Authorities said it is anticipated that U.S. DOT will issue a notice regarding availability for the first batch of IIJA port grants in mid-February.

Long Beach, Calif., Project

By far, the largest of the 25 grants in the new round of awards is $52.3 million for the Port of Long Beach in California, to help finance an on-dock rail support facility.

Mario Cordero, the port’s executive director, said in a statement that the project “will help to move cargo more efficiently through the port, getting needed products and goods to homes and businesses across America faster.”

Construction of the facility is to begin in 2023, according to the port, and the first arrival, support and storage tracks are expected to be completed in 2025. Officials are aiming to finish the project in 2032. In 2019, the port awarded a contract to HDR for final design on the facility.

The port said that the plan will help move more freight by rail and describes the project as the “centerpiece” of a $1-billion rail capital improvement program.

Other large grants include $29.5 million to Albany, N.Y., for a $158-million plan to develop a Hudson River site as a wind tower manufacturing port. The project includes an access bridge, a connecting road, utility work, berth dredging and 500 linear feet of heavy-capacity wharf construction.

DOT also awarded a $25-million grant to a pier expansion at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal in New York City. Work on the $89.5-million project includes a new barge berth and a crane pad.

A $20-million grant will go to the Portsmouth, Virginia, Marine Terminal so the facility can be a staging area to build a wind turbine generator staging area for offshore wind projects. The project’s total cost is $191 million, according to Maritime Administration figures.

Among the other winning projects are $18.3 million to Houston to develop a 39-acre tract at the Bayport Container Terminal and $15.7 million to the port of Tacoma, Wash., to build an off-dock container support facility.

The projects in the latest U.S. DOT port grant round were selected from 107 applicants. The Maritime Administration's Port Infrastructure Development Program provided a total of $492 million in grants in its first two years.

Corrected on 1/10/2022 with full name of Port Infrastructure Development Program.