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MARAD Releases Port Planning Toolkit

In November, the U. S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) released the first module of the Port Planning and Investment Toolkit, a manual designed to aid U.S. port authorities with planning and funding for crucial port infrastructure improvements.

Titled Funding Strategy Guide, this module provides guidelines, analytic tools and resources to help port authorities develop comprehensive business plans and the financial structures needed to implement them. The release of this product supports the Build America Investment Initiative, which aims to expand public-private collaboration on infrastructure development and financing in the U.S.

“We know that to remain globally-competitive our nation’s ports must be able to meet the demand of the future,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx. “This tool-kit is part of a government-wide effort to help projects leverage both public and private dollars to increase overall infrastructure investment and promote economic growth.”

Funded with $400,000 from MARAD, the toolkit was created by a joint effort between the agency, the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA), and a wide range of experienced port stakeholders. It features a range of finance options, including economic blueprints that have supported billion dollar domestic port and multimodal transportation projects.

The Funding Strategy Guide is the first segment of the Port Planning and Investment Toolkit, an ongoing initiative spearheaded by MARAD’s StrongPorts program. Consistent with the overall objectives of the Build America Investment Initiative, the toolkit is part of a focused effort through USDOT to provide technical assistance to project sponsors as they consider a range of different options to help finance infrastructure projects and attract additional private investment.

The guide includes background for sponsors considering Public Private Partnerships, information on leveraging federal credit programs, and project profiles to help showcase best practices. A future supplement will also set forth guidelines to help port infrastructure projects understand how to qualify for formula funding through Metropolitan Planning Organizations and state transportation programs.

Additionally, the Grow America Act, the Administration’s $302 billion call for transportation infrastructure funding, including $10 billion over four year to establish a new multimodal freight grant program to fund innovative rail, highway and port projects that will improve the efficient movement of goods across the country. The Grow America Act will also give shippers and transportation providers a seat at the table for making investment decisions and incentivizes states to collaborate and establish long-term freight strategic plans. The Grow America Act also provides $5 billion for the highly successful TIGER competitive grant program; previous TIGER awards have included nearly $500 million to 40 port projects, since 2009.

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