- Federal and state transportation agencies are partnering to speed up and find "potentially billions in financing" for projects for California's ports and other infrastructure needs to help relieve congestion, according to a news release Thursday.
- The Emerging Projects Agreement between the U.S. Department of Transportation and the California State Transportation Agency will help the state fast-track "a network of related projects," rather than using a piecemeal approach, the release said. The program aims to support multiple projects that will help the state grow the economy, protect the environment and modernize its supply chain processes.
- "This federal-state partnership will ensure the creation of local infrastructure projects aimed at improving freight movement between the San Pedro Bay ports complex and distribution centers in the Inland Empire," said Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero in a statement.
The Emerging Projects Agreement targets 8 types of projects
- Port-specific upgrades
- Capacity expansions for freight rail
- Developing inland port facilities for increased warehouse storage
- Railyard and truck electrification
- Highway upgrades to improve truck travel times
- Grade-separated crossings to reduce the number of rail-street intersections and improve safety and efficiency
- Land ports of entry to expand trade capacity and cross-border commerce
- Other eligible projects of critical importance identified by the California State Transportation Agency
Southern California ports have become a critical bottleneck in the U.S. supply chain, as a flood of imports have been met with a lack of capacity and equipment.
The public and private sectors are tackling the issue in myriad ways. The Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach are moving toward 24/7 operations. California Gov. Gavin Newsom has directed state agencies to work on both short-term and long-term solutions for supply chain issues. And Union Pacific has expanded hours and capacity to help alleviate congestion.
Future supply chain resiliency also has to be part of the equation, as current infrastructure "clearly is not equipped for today's demand," Ports Envoy John Porcari said in October. The Emerging Projects Agreement's goal is to kickstart projects that will help facilitate imports and exports movement in the state and increase resiliency.
"Having our federal and state transportation agencies working in unison to help fund infrastructure is exactly what we need," Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka said in a statement. "We have projects in need of funding that will reduce cargo delays, improve efficiency, reduce emissions and improve safety for waterfront workers and motorists throughout the region."
Eligible projects under the agreement "must be considered based on their potential for strengthening supply chain resilience," the release said. The DOT's Build America Bureau will help project sponsors explore financing opportunities through federal loan via the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act and the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing programs.
Beyond accelerating and helping finance California infrastructure upgrades, the partnership will also "serve as a model for other states," Porcari said in a statement.