White House announces additional steps to address supply chain

November 9, 2021

Land Line Staff

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President Joe Biden on Tuesday, Nov. 9, announced additional steps to ease supply chain issues.

Those steps include funding a Georgia Port Authority project to alleviate congestion at the Port of Savannah and allowing port authorities across the nation to redirect project cost savings toward tackling supply chain challenges. In addition, the White House plans to develop “a comprehensive freight movement playbook” to states that includes “an assessment of truck parking facilities.”

“This action plan will increase federal flexibilities for port grants; accelerate port infrastructure grant awards; announce new construction projects for coastal navigation, inland waterways, and land ports of entry; and launch the first round of expanded infrastructure grants funded through the bipartisan infrastructure deal,” the White House said.

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an infrastructure bill that will invest $110 billion to repair roads and bridges, as well as $17 billion to improve infrastructure at coastal ports, inland ports and waterways, and land ports of entry along the border.

According to a White House fact sheet, the administration also is taking the following immediate actions.

  • Redirecting project cost savings. The U.S. Department of Transportation will allow port authorities across the country to redirect project cost savings toward tackling supply chain challenges. The administration also will continue to look for additional flexibilities and other solutions to support infrastructure needs in the goods movement supply chain.
  • Alleviating congestion at the Port of Savannah. The Georgia Port Authority pop-up container yards project will be funded. With this policy change, the Georgia Port Authority will be able to reallocate more than $8 million to convert existing inland facilities into five pop-up container yards in Georgia and North Carolina. Under the plan, the Port of Savannah will transfer containers via rail and truck further inland so that they can be closer to their final destination.

Other near-term actions include:

  • Modernizing ports. Programs will be launched to modernize ports and marine highways with more than $240 million in grant funding within the next 45 days.
  • Construction. Projects for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers construction at coastal ports and inland waterways will be identified within the next 60 days. The plan will provide a roadmap for more than $4 billion in funding to repair outdated infrastructure and to deepen harbors for larger cargo ships.
  • Prioritizing key ports of entry. The plan will identify $3.4 billion in investments to upgrade obsolete inspection facilities and allow more efficient international trade through the northern and southern borders.
  • Infrastructure grants. Competition for the first round of port infrastructure grants funded through the infrastructure bill will be opened within 90 days. U.S. DOT will announce more than $475 million in additional funding for port and marine highway infrastructure.
  • Freight movement playbook. U.S. DOT will publish a playbook for states on how to use grant and loan programs to support goods movement and help alleviate freight bottlenecks.
  • Best practices. U.S. DOT will develop and issue revised guidance on state freight plans that incorporates best worldwide freight planning practices. According to the White House, the infrastructure bill strengthens the freight plans that states are required to produce to include supply chain cargo flows, an inventory of commercial ports, the effects of e-commerce on freight infrastructure, and an assessment of truck parking facilities.
  • Data sharing. U.S. DOT will work with the Federal Maritime Commission to publish a request for information on standardized data exchange requirements for goods movement in the transportation supply chain.

These steps toward addressing the supply chain follow Biden’s announcement in October that the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach would move toward 24/7 operations.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association said that disruptions in the supply chain are nothing new to truck drivers and that the administration needs to address problems with detention time and the lack of truck parking in order to fix the root of the problem.

“Every region of our country and segment of our economy relies upon long-haul truck drivers, and it’s time both the government and the trucking industry begin treating them as essential workers,” OOIDA President Todd Spencer said. “We support the administration’s efforts to improve the quality of trucking jobs, but this must start with valuing and compensating all of a driver’s time.” LL

WW Williams