Biden admin allowing ports to redirect unused funds on supply chain problems
The Biden administration announced Tuesday that it will allow port authorities to redirect cost savings from existing federal projects to help address supply chain bottlenecks as part of a broader effort to speed up the movement of goods.
Administration officials said that the new policy change will allow the Georgia Port Authority to redirect more than $8 million to fund new pop-up container yards in Georgia and North Carolina. The container project, once completed, will allow the port of Savannah to transfer containers a couple hundred miles inland to clear dock space and accelerate the outward flow of goods.
“It’s a great way to get capacity and efficiency at the port,” a senior administration official told reporters Tuesday. “We expect that that kind of flexibility will help other projects as well.”
The official estimated that the container yards would be operational within 30 to 45 days and would represent the first project funded by the new policy change.
The announcement is the latest effort by the Biden administration to address global supply chain disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Officials also laid out an action plan to accelerate the implementation of port-related provisions of the recently passed $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill by identifying projects that can be funded by the legislation, which President Biden is expected to sign into law in the coming days.
For instance, officials said the Transportation Department would award over $240 million in grant funding in the next 45 days through the Infrastructure Development Grant program, which gets additional funding under the infrastructure bill, which cleared Congress on Friday.
The department also aims to identify prospects for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers construction projects at ports and inland waterways within 60 days to help steer $4 billion in funding.
The administration will identify $3.4 billion in investments to upgrade ports of entry within the next 90 days. And officials are setting a goal of opening competition for the first round of port infrastructure grants funded through the bipartisan infrastructure bill within the next 90 days, grants that will total $475 million in funding for port and marine highway infrastructure.
“There’s work going on right now to actually get these projects teed up, get the programs teed up and out the door,” the senior administration official said.
The administration announced the new steps ahead of Biden’s trip to the Port of Baltimore on Wednesday, during which he plans to highlight the impacts of the infrastructure bill.
The measure includes $550 billion in new spending over five years, including $17 billion in funding to improve infrastructure at coastal ports as well as inland ports and ports of entry at the U.S. border specifically.
Last month, the Biden administration announced that West Coast ports, as well as major retailers and shippers, would move to 24-hour daily operations in order to help ease the supply chain bottlenecks.
The official said that the initiatives funded by the bipartisan infrastructure bill would result in faster, more efficient, and more environmentally friendly movement of goods over the medium and long term.
“It’s really positioning the United States for the economy of the future,” the official said.
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