As I’ve mentioned before, DOT’s commitment to investing in our ports is a key part of President Obama’s initiative to double our national exports.
In keeping with that commitment, the Administration announced last week that it is expediting review of seven nationally and regionally significant infrastructure projects to help modernize and expand five major American ports –Jacksonville, Miami, Savannah, New York / New Jersey, and Charleston.
In March, the President issued an Executive Order to make the permitting and review process for infrastructure projects more efficient and effective. This will save time while generating good outcomes--like jobs and economic activity--for local communities.
As the President said, “Today’s commitment to move these port projects forward faster will help drive job growth and strengthen the economy.”
The seven projects in last week's announcement are the first in a set of 43 projects that will be expedited by the Executive Order, with additional projects to be announced in the coming weeks. Because they create jobs and keep goods moving freely and efficiently, these port projects will be crucial economic engines for the entire Eastern seaboard. In fact, with the widened Panama Canal opening in 2014 to much larger ships, preparing U.S. ports for these Post-Panamax vessels is absolutely essential to the economic activity our ports support.
For example, we’ve already invested more than $10 million in the Port of Jacksonville through our TIGER program to build a new Intermodal Container Transfer Facility, which will expand capacity at the Port and improve energy efficiency.
Now, through close coordination with the Army Corps of Engineers, we’ll be able to expedite a study of deepening Jacksonville’s ship channel to handle the industry's larger, Post-Panamax ships, resulting in new construction jobs, improved navigational safety, and increased economic activity for nearby communities.
In addition to expediting these projects, the Administration is also establishing a White House-led Task Force of senior officials from various White House offices and federal agencies. This task force will develop a federal strategy for future port and related infrastructure investments.
America’s marine transportation system is a crucial part of our economy, and this Administration has made a consistent effort from its earliest days to make our ports the best in the world. We will continue to build on those investments.