DOT Focuses on Strategic Investments in Supply Chain
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WASHINGTON — Moving from past years’ actions to address the pandemic, Department of Transportation leaders want to make strategic federal investments in infrastructure projects to increase supply chain resiliency and enhance the U.S. economy in the world.
These sentiments were shared by Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Deputy Secretary Polly Trottenberg during separate addresses March 29 at the 2023 American Association of Port Authorities Legislative Summit.
Buttigieg, in a video message, told the gathering “the work that we’re doing together to overcome the pandemic-driven supply chain disruptions is making an enormous impact.” He spoke after AAPA named USDOT as Port Person of the Year.
He cited DOT’s investment last year of more than $703 million to fund 41 projects in 22 states through the Maritime Administration’s Port Infrastructure Development Program (PIDP) as examples of port improvements.
Opening the MainStage program of the AAPA Legislative Summit, Chris Connor, our association’s President & CEO. He stated, “AAPA is leading the charge with Congress, and the Administration to drive policy to achieve and maintain ‘Strong Ports, Strong America’” pic.twitter.com/Sd5O74gzPU — AAPA (@AAPA_Seaports) March 28, 2023
“We have made good progress on issues that affect people profoundly. I’m proud to play a role in supporting, funding and reinforcing America’s ports,” Buttigieg said, adding that more work is needed “to keep goods moving smoothly and to keep the price of goods down, and we’re not letting up with that work.”
He reminded port officials about an April 28 deadline to apply for a share of $662 million of PIDP funds in fiscal year 2023 grants that also will improve ports by strengthening supply chains with near- and long-term benefits.
“We will soon be opening a $160 million round for a new [DOT] program to reduce truck emissions at ports, including reducing truck idle, which will benefit drivers as well as port workers and neighboring communities,” Buttigieg said.
He noted DOT serves as a steward in continuing to build the Freight Logistics Optimization Works (FLOW program) for accurate and useful information about goods movement in U.S. supply chains. (FLOW is a government/industry partnership to exchange information between supply chain stakeholders within the nation that provides future and near-time intermodal freight information for cargo movements throughout the supply chain. Participants include marine and surface transportation carriers, terminal operators and warehouses.)
Andrew Petrisin by Noël Fletcher/Transport Topics.
“I urge you to continue to work closely with us to help make the most of this moment when the well-deserved national attention on supply chains is being matched by a well-deserved national investment in our supply chain infrastructure,” Buttigieg said. “The work we’re doing together will benefit not just the communities where your ports are located, but businesses and families across the country for decades to come.”
Trottenberg said her office is focusing on decisions about long-term strategic investments in infrastructure projects that will last for decades.
“We are really transforming the level of investment we’re making,” Trottenberg remarked. “We have a multiplicity of programs and we’re very excited to get those dollars out the door.”
She said DOT aims to ensure its federal investments “are going to increase the throughput of goods and strengthen the resiliency of the supply chain, create good-paying jobs and spur domestic manufacturing,” while also improving the environment.
“Now is our chance to deliver, now is our chance to show that we can strengthen our supply chain, we can create jobs, we can spur domestic manufacturing, we can help this country retain its economic world competitiveness,” Trottenberg said.
Another development at DOT is the creation of the Office of Multimodal Freight now being organized within Buttigieg’s office, revealed Andrew Petrisin, DOT supply chain adviser, who is heading the new organization.
Its focus will be on “the economic vitality of the nation,” noted Petrisin, who also spoke at the conference.
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The new office, which has been working with state freight advisory committees, will look at multimodal freight issues as a national system with global implications. Among its functions will be to gather data, conduct research and provide a venue for state freight stakeholders to speak with Buttigieg.
Petrisin said having a freight office for the first time within the Office of the Secretary of Transportation will help establish national freight policies and become a key conduit for all the various government and private sector transportation modes within the supply chain.