$2.7B Port Infrastructure Funding Announced
Late last month, the Biden-Harris Administration announced that it will be investing more than $2.7 billion in funding to 300 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects across the country, focused on strengthening ports and waterways. The announcement builds on the Administration providing $14 billion from the bipartisan infrastructure law to strengthen port and waterway supply changes and climate resilience.
The White House reports that, with the new investment, a total of nearly $17 billion in infrastructure funding and other supplemental appropriations are being invested in fiscal year 2022 and 2023 for over 800 projects across 55 states and territories.
According to the White House’s Fact Sheet, key projects from the Army Corps are expected to strengthen the nation’s supply chain, provide new economic opportunities, advance environmental justice and bolster defenses against climate change. Some of these investments include:
Additionally, the Department of the Interior announced $1.7 billion infrastructure funding by the Bureau of Reclamation for rural infrastructure funding, investing specifically in water infrastructure to address drought across the west.
Both investments reportedly advance President Joe Biden’s Justice40 initiative, which ensures that 40% of certain federal investments, including in the areas of climate change and critical clean water and wastewater infrastructure, go to historically marginalized, underserved and overburdened communities.
The Army Corps of Engineers is committing $321 million through the infrastructure law to expand capacity at key ports and waterways to allow passage of larger vessels, further enhance the movement of more goods and reduce congestion on inland waterways.
Specific projects include widening and deepening the Norfolk Harbor, Virginia, Federal navigation channel ($72 million); deepening the Port of Galveston in Texas ($11 million); deepening the Brazos Island Harbor Channel at the Port of Brownsville in Texas ($68 million); constructing new lock chambers in the Upper Ohio River, Pennsylvania ($77 million); and investing in the McClellan–Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System ($92.6 million).
$1.16 billion in investments will go towards reducing coastal and inland flood risk, as well as restore aquatic ecosystems. The Army Corps will increase community resilience to flooding, including nearly $482 million to reduce coastal flood risk through 12 projects and more than $679 million to reduce inland flood risk through an additional seven projects. These projects include:
Finally, the White House reports that these projects will deliver on Biden’s Justice40 Initiative. In addition to these projects, the Administration will provide $115 million to the Southwest Coastal Louisiana Hurricane Protection project, $67 million to the Pajaro, California, project and $2.2 million to the Espanola Valley, Rio Grande, and Tributaries, New Mexico, project.
$6.6 billion in funding commercial navigation improvements, flood and storm damage reduction and aquatic ecosystem restoration through the Corps Civil Works program will be provided in fiscal year 2023 to also advance infrastructure needs.
The Army Corps reports that additional Civil Works studies, projects and programs will be implemented in the next couple years with $22.81 billion in funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the 2022 Disaster Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act.
"The transformative investments of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal and the 2022 Disaster Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, along with the FY 2023 Budget submitted to Congress earlier this week, continue to focus on investments that yield high economic and environmental returns, build resilience to climate change, promote environmental justice and increase opportunities to work with disadvantaged communities," said Michael L. Connor, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works.
Recent Port Infrastructure Investments
In a continuing effort to bolster the supply chain, the government has also invested funding from the bipartisan infrastructure law to land ports. U.S. General Services Administration recently announced major land port modernization and construction projects funded by the Biden Administration’s bipartisan infrastructure law. The $3.4 billion in funding will help modernize 26 land ports of entry along the U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico.
“America’s land ports are vital to our economy and our security, with billions of dollars in goods and services crossing our borders each and every day,” said GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan. “These bipartisan investments are a historic opportunity to modernize our land ports in ways that will create good-paying jobs and strengthen supply chains, while enhancing safety and security.”
“Our underfunded and outdated infrastructure has real costs to families, our economy, and our global competitiveness,” said Senior Advisor & White House Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu. “President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is investing in strengthening our supply chains, including our land ports which are vital for moving goods across our borders.”
Carnahan noted that on average, land ports are 40 years old and have not been able to keep up with increased trade in recent years. These new projects are reportedly expected to expand supply chain capacity, introduce new technology to process traffic and increase energy efficiency.
Additionally, modernization and construction of these ports is anticipated to support the U.S. Customs and Border Protection by allowing them to more effectively deploy the latest technology to identify high risk activity and shipments, combat drug trafficking and increase operational security.
According to the release, projects that are currently expected to move forward under the plan include:
The GSA notes that these estimated project costs are subject to change due to time and market conditions. The administration also expects to award some contracts prior to the end of the year, including for Calexico West, California, and San Luis, Arizona.
Infrastructure Bill Details
With the goal of rebuilding the nation’s deteriorating roads and bridges, as well as funding new climate resilience and broadband initiatives, the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act reportedly serves to deliver a key component in President Joe Biden’s agenda.
The White House also reports that the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, alongside the Build Back Framework, will add on average 1.5 million jobs per year for the next ten years.
“Tonight, we took a monumental step forward as a nation,” President Biden said in a statement following the 228-206 vote. “The United States House of Representatives passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a once-in-generation bipartisan infrastructure bill that will create millions of jobs, turn the climate crisis into an opportunity and put us on a path to win the economic competition for the 21st Century.
“I’m also proud that a rule was voted on that will allow for passage of my Build Back Better Act in the House of Representatives the week of Nov. 15. The Build Back Better Act will be a once-in-a-generation investment in our people.”
As potential effects of climate change woe the world, the legislation has recognized that nearly 75% of the nation’s electricity can be accounted for in both its residential and commercial structures, such as housing, stores and offices.
To mitigate the high usage, the Build Better Plan has dedicated roughly $5 billion to various programs aimed at reducing electricity use in buildings, improving building materials and training on design, construction and maintenance for energy-efficient structures.
The bill will also fund a series of problem-solving programs, for issues varying from drafty windows in affordable housing complexes to aged air ducts and outdated building codes.
According to reports, the largest chunk of the $5 billion will be utilized for the Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program, which aids structures owned or occupied by people with low incomes. The legislation is expected to provide a $3.5 billion infusion for the program, which will be used to fund upgrades such as insulation, windows, roofing, and heating and cooling devices.
Though seemingly minor, the upgrades are expected to result in sizable energy savings.
Later in November, the White House announced that President Joe Biden named former New Orleans Mayor Landrieu as senior advisor responsible for the implementation of the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
Landrieu served as the mayor of New Orleans from 2010-2018, during Hurricane Katrina recovery and the BP Oil Spill. According to the White House statement, in that time he fast-tracked over 100 projects and secured billions in federal funding for roads, schools, hospitals, parks and critical infrastructure.
“He also knows what it’s like to lead at the state level and will be able to work with and relate to governors and other state officials,” stated the White House press release. “And he has strong relationships in the business and labor communities, which will be essential in carrying out this job.”
At the beginning of the year, Landrieu reached out to state leaders at the beginning of the month encouraging them to appoint their own infrastructure coordinators to implement the $1.2 trillion law.
The three-page letter, sent to all the nation’s governors on Jan. 4, requested that they appoint a “high-level” representative to serve as the state’s own Infrastructure Implementation Coordinator. Landrieu also reportedly suggested that governors create task forces modeled after the Infrastructure Implementation Task Force created by President Joe Biden in November.
The role of these positions will help integrate aspects of the bill, including funding, alongside departments responsible for transportation, water, broadband and energy investments for projects.
“We know that needs, capacity, and challenges can vary widely by locality,” the letter from Landrieu, which was shared with CNN, reads. “We need to make sure our programs reflect these realities across your state and our country, and having a senior, single point of contact in your office will help ensure that issues get elevated appropriately and rapidly.”
In his letter, Landrieu also announced that his team, with the Office of Management and Budget, plan to release formal guidance to agencies to “help set the policy parameters for much of the discretionary and remaining formula funding in 2022 and beyond.”
In February, the White House released the first edition of its Bipartisan Infrastructure Law guidebook that contains a comprehensive list of the more than 375 programs and available funding included in the law.
Acting as a “roadmap” for the funding available under the law, as well as an explanatory document that shows direct federal spending at the program level, the 465-page guidebook outlines 12 chapters grouping the programs by area
Of the 375 programs, 125 are new, with 60% of the funds are available through formula and 40% are through competitive applications. Future phases of the guidebook are expected to update dates and timelines for program implementation, best practices, case studies and links to key resources.