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American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) and Coalition for America's Gateways and Trade Corridors (CAGTC) officials expressed concern last week about the impact President Donald Trump's fiscal-year 2018 budget proposal would have on U.S. ports and trade by ending the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program.Last year, the TIGER program awarded $61.8 million in grants to U.S. ports for multimodal infrastructure projects such as dock, rail and road improvements, AAPA officials said in a press release.Additionally, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Port Security Grants Program, which Congress last funded at $100 million and in fiscal-year 2017 provided 35 port security-related grants, is expected to experience a significant cut, they said."Activities at U.S. seaports account for more than a quarter of the nation’s economy, support over 23 million American jobs and generate more than $320 billion a year in federal, state and local tax revenue," said AAPA President and Chief Executive Officer Kurt Nagle. "It's vital the federal government uphold its end of the partnership with ports so the country can have a 21st century goods movement system in place.”Competitive grant programs like TIGER are critical for transportation projects that are difficult to fund through traditional distribution methods, such as formula programs, said CAGTC Executive Director Elaine Nessle in a press release.TIGER is among federal grant programs that encourage competition at the state, regional and local level to develop projects that maximize federal investment by encouraging creative financing, private sector participation and non-federal matching, she said."The TIGER program has proven its effectiveness in capitalizing on federal investments: for every $1 of federal monies distributed through the program, $3.50 is leveraged through other sources, including private funds, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation," said Nessle.CAGTC called on the Trump administration to fund competitive grant programs such as TIGER and the Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects at an "increased, robust level" to support nationally and regionally significant transportation infrastructure projects.
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