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ASCE Sees $35B Gap for Ports, Airports

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

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Higher shipping costs, higher consumer prices, and the loss of one million jobs are among the consequences of an estimated $35 billion shortfall in marine port and airport investment in the next eight years, a new report warns.

The report forecasts a funding gap of about $35 billion in airport and marine port investment by 2020. The shortfall will mean transporting goods will become costlier and prices will rise, ASCE warned.

The nation’s marine ports and inland waterways need $30 billion in infrastructure investment by 2020 but are currently scheduled to get just $14 billion, leaving an “investment gap” of nearly $16 billion, reports “Failure to Act,” a new report by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Similarly, airports will need about $114 billion, but anticipated spending is only $95 billion, leaving a $19 billion gap, the report says.

1M Jobs, $1T Income Loss

The shortfall will mean price increases for all commodities transported by ship or air and the loss of a million jobs, including ripple effects into related industries, contends the U.S.’s oldest national engineering society.

“Congestion and delays lead to goods waiting on docks and in warehouses for shipment, which in turn leads to higher transportation costs and higher-priced products on store shelves,” said Andrew W. Herrmann, P.E., president of ASCE. “If we don’t close the investment gaps, everyone is going to feel the negative impacts because we are on course to lose more than one million jobs and more than $1 trillion in personal income by 2020.”

Bigger Ships, Bigger Ports

Calling the nation’s marine ports and inland waterways “critical links” in international commerce, the report warns that scheduled expansion of the Panama Canal by 2015 is likely to sharply increase the average size of container ships, “affecting the operations at most of the major U.S. ports that handle containerized cargo and requiring both sectors to modernize.”

“Needed investment in marine ports includes harbor and channel dredging, while inland waterways require new or rehabilitated lock and dam facilities.”

The United States has 300 commercial ports, 12,000 miles of inland and intra-coastal waterways and about 240 lock chambers, which carry more than 70 percent of U.S. imports by tonnage and just over half of the nation’s imports by value, according to ASCE.

Delays in the nation’s inland waterways system—including shipments of petroleum and coal—cost the U.S. $33 billion in 2010, the report said.

By closing the investment gap in marine ports and inland waterways, the society says, the U.S. can protect:

• $270 billion in U.S. exports

• $697 billion in GDP

• 738,000 jobs annually; and

• $872 billion in personal income.

Crowded Skies

Commercial aircraft operations at the 15 major metro markets are also projected to soar in the coming decades, with passenger traffic increasing by almost one-third by 2020 and more than doubling by 2040. Freight shipments by air are expected to increase 54 percent by 2020, according to ASCE.

Costs attributable to airport congestion will rise from $24 billion in 2012, to $34 billion in 2020, to $63 billion by 2040, the society says. It says $2.1 billion in additional annual investments in airports, plus the development of NextGen, will protect:

• $54 billion in exports;

• $313 billion in GDP;

• 350,000 jobs; and

• $361 billion in personal income.

Read and download the full report here.


Tagged categories: Airports; Economy; Funding; Infrastructure; Marine

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