Legislation has been introduced in the US Congress to help upgrade ports to meet the challenges of extreme weather events, flooding and a rise in sea levels, and to increase funding for infrastructure projects at inland river ports.
The Resilient Ports Act is endorsed by Democrats Peter DeFazio, chair of the committee on transportation and infrastructure, and Salud Carbajal, chair of the subcommittee on coast guard and maritime transportation, and by Republican Sam Graves, transportation and infrastructure ranking member.
In addition to building resiliency, the bill would enable funding for port infrastructure projects that reduce the overall carbon footprint from port operations.
Our ports are years, even decades behind the times
“Like so much of our nation’s infrastructure, our ports are years, even decades behind the times, which affects our global competitiveness in the maritime sector. This bipartisan legislation – which will help reduce carbon pollution and ensure our ports are resilient to events related to climate change – is a key part of the solution,” said DeFazio.
Just how far behind American ports are from a global perspective was put into sharp focus earlier this month. No American boxport was among the top 50 most efficient in the world, a study from the World Bank revealed last week.
American port inefficiencies have been discussed at length this year amid severe supply chain crunches at the nation’s maritime gateways.
Speaking at this year’s virtual TPM conference, Jeremy Nixon, CEO of Ocean Network Express (ONE), noted that terminal productivity in North America lags that of Asian ports by up to 50% because longshoremen put in fewer working hours. At the same event, Vincent Clerc, CEO of A.P. Moller-Maersk Ocean & Logistics, said underinvestment at North American ports is a critical factor in the current box crisis.
The Federal Maritime Commission, America’s shipping regulator, said last week it will look into the issue of operating hours at the nation’s ports.
Salvatore Mercogliano, an associate professor of History at Campbell University in North Carolina and adjunct professor with the US Merchant Marine Academy, told Splash last week: “The US has lagged in its ports, seemingly always playing catch up with terminals in Asia and Europe.”
The opening last month of the the Hugh K. Leatherman Terminal in Charleston was significant for the fact it marked the first new box facility completed in America for more than a decade, a period of time that has seen acres of quayside and thousands of gantry cranes spring up at other ports around the world.