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Brownwater News, April 2016

Apr 20, 2016 05:10 PM

DOT invites applications for FASTLANE

The Department of Transportation is soliciting applications for the new FASTLANE grant program in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) legislation to fund critical freight and highway projects across the country.

The FAST act authorizes $800 million in funding for the FASTLANE program for fiscal year 2016, with 25 percent reserved for rural projects and 10 percent for smaller projects.

FASTLANE stands for Fostering Advancements in Shipping and Transportation for the Long-Term Achievement of National Efficiencies. The grant program provides funding for projects of national or regional significance, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said.

“For the first time in the department’s 50-year history, the program establishes broad, multiyear eligibilities for freight infrastructure, including intermodal projects,” Foxx said. 

”Our nation needs a strong multimodal freight system to both compete in the global economy and meet the needs of consumers and industry,” the secretary said. “We now have an opportunity to fund high-impact projects that address key challenges affecting the movement of people and freight.”

FASTLANE grants, authorized by the FAST Act’s Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects (NSFHP) program, will fund small and large projects that meet statutory requirements, Foxx said. “Large projects (equal to the lesser of $100 million or a certain specified statutory percentage of the project state’s FY15 apportionment) are eligible for a minimum award of $25 million. Small projects, which consist of projects below the minimum large project size threshold, are eligible for a minimum award of $5 million.”

The NSFHP program is authorized at $4.5 billion through 2020. For more information, including a schedule of webinars on the program, visit www.transportation.gov/fastlanegrants.

Shippers warned to weigh packed containers by July 1

Rear Adm. Paul Thomas, Coast Guard assistant commandant for prevention policy, has assured shippers that a delay in implementing a new rule mandating the weighing of packed ocean shipping containers beyond the global implementation date of July 1 “is not an option.”

That message was reported by the National Industrial Transportation League (NITL) after a listening session hosted by the Federal Maritime Commission.

Thomas noted that the new mandate for a verified gross mass (VGM) was not a U.S. regulation or law, but rather an international rule adopted by members of the International Maritime Organization in London.

The NITL said that since the new VGM rule was adopted, shippers have been required to provide accurate weights of loaded containers to vessel masters and terminal operators. The new rule will require such weights to be verified by signed documents provided in advance of loading the containers aboard ships.

DOT funds available for UTC program

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has announced that $377.5 million in funding will be available over five years for the University Transportation Centers (UTC) Program, including awards of up to $72.5 million for fiscal year 2016.

Foxx said that this year, for the first time, two-year institutions of higher education are eligible to partner in the UTC consortia.

“The funds will support UTC programs that provide students with real opportunities to take part in cutting-edge research and to work on transportation issues with leading experts in the field, said Greg Winfree, assistant transportation secretary for research and technology. “In addition, these centers allow undergraduate and graduate students in multimodal transportation-related disciplines to apply innovative thinking and evolve technologies that will ultimately improve people’s lives.”

Completed applications are due by May 13. Awards will be made by Dec. 4, with FY16 funds (up to $72.5 million) awarded at that time.

For more information contact Nancy Wilochka at (202) 366-5128.

Congress pressed on behalf of Jones Act, uniform ballast rules

Tom Allegretti, president and chief executive of the American Waterways Operators, pressed Congress for continued defense of the Jones Act and for a uniform national standard for vessel discharge regulation.

Testifying before the House Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee on April 14, Allegretti warned the lawmakers that the Jones Act “is under attack.”

Anticipating that this spring will bring new regulations aimed at the waterways transportation industry, Allegretti asked the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to continue to show “leadership in resisting and rejecting the inclusion of measures to weaken the Jones Act in legislation that may originate in other committees.”

Referring to the new Subchapter M rule, which will establish the towing vessel inspection regime for the first time, Allegretti asked Congress to continue “to exercise its oversight responsibility to ensure that the (rule) is implemented effectively without causing any interruption to the movement of commerce on our nation’s waterways.”

Elaborating, Allegretti alerted the subcommittee that the regulation of incidental vessel discharges “is a mess, and we are in urgent need of congressional action this year to fix it.”

Allegretti told the panel that with differing views facing the industry in California, Capitol Hill, the courts and the Environmental Protection Agency, “now is the time for Congress to resolve this regulatory mess by enacting legislation that will enhance protections for the waterways, boost efforts to develop improved ballast water treatment technologies, and eliminate uncertainty that stymies investment.”

Waterways industry seeks $10 million for NESP

Fifty-five organizations, including Waterways Council Inc. (WCI), American Waterways Operators and the Upper Mississippi River Basin Association, have urged the Senate Appropriations Committee to approve a proposed $10 million for the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program (NESP) for fiscal year 2017.

The organizations asked that the funds be appropriated “specifically toward engineering and design (pre-construction engineering design) to get this important program closer to construction-ready status in fiscal 2017.”

The appeal was in the form of a letter written March 2 to Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), chairman of the committee; Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Energy & Water Appropriations Subcommittee; and the two ranking members. Copies of the letter were made available March 9 by Michael J. Toohey, president and chief executive of WCI, who updated the news media on a variety of issues related to inland waterways transportation.

Authorized in the Water Resources Development Act of 2007 but not yet implemented, the letter said NESP is an “unprecedented, multi-purpose” program allowing the Army Corps of Engineers to integrate management of the Upper Mississippi River System’s infrastructure with ecosystem improvements.

The five-state program involves Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin. The program includes construction of seven modern, 1,200-foot navigation locks at highly congested Locks and Dams 20, 21, 22, 24 and 25 on the Upper Mississippi River, and the La Grange and Peoria Locks on the Illinois Waterway.

NESP’s authorization includes $1.9 billion for the new locks and $256 million for small-scale navigation efficiency measures. The authorization includes $1.7 billion for a 15-year ecosystem restoration program and $10.4 million annually for its monitoring.

The letter noted that while most of America’s locks and dams were built in the 1920s and 1930s, they and the inland waterways must transport 21st-century cargoes, which the Department of Transportation calculates will be increased by 1.1 billion tons in 25 years.

Coast Guard revises Great Lakes pilotage ratemaking

The Coast Guard reports that, effective April 6, it has revised its Great Lakes pilotage ratemaking methodology, adjusted its annual pilotage rates and authorized a temporary surcharge to hire additional pilots and to pay for necessary training for new and current pilots.

The Coast Guard intends for the methodology changes to be understandable and transparent, and to encourage investment in pilots, infrastructure and training while helping ensure safe, efficient and reliable service on the Great Lakes.

For more information, contact Todd Haviland at (202) 372-2037.

Towboats, tugboats show wrong information on AIS

The American Waterways Operators says it has been informed by the Coast Guard’s Navigation Center that about 60 percent of tugboats and towboats are displaying incorrect information through their automatic identification systems.

Among the common errors reported by the Navigation Center, the AWO said, are identification discrepancies related to a vessel’s name, Maritime Mobile Service identity number, the International Maritime Organization number or call sign, as well as discrepancies in which information on a vessel’s length, beam, draft and type are missing.

Engineers’ Final Deauthorization Report published

The Army Corps of Engineers has published its Final Deauthorization Report of water resources development projects as required by the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 (WRRDA14).

Jo-Ellen Darcy, assistant secretary of the Army for civil works (ASACW), transmitted the report to Congress on Feb. 26. The report indicates that it would take more than $14 billion of federal funds to complete the listed projects.

According to the report, the projects listed will be deauthorized automatically 180 days after the ASACW submits final report to Congress, unless Congress disapproves the report or the non-federal interests provide sufficient funds to complete the projects.

The report listing the projects slated for deauthorization was printed in the March 25 edition of the Federal Register.

For more information, contact Joseph W. Aldridge at (202) 761-4130.

DOT designates 3 new marine highway projects

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has designated three new marine highway projects. The Mississippi River, previously designated as the M-55, will serve as the primary route for the Baton Rouge-New Orleans Shuttle. The proposed Illinois Intrastate Shuttle was structured to shift about 5,500 containers in the first year from congested north-south I-55 to the Mississippi River. The container-on-barge service will provide soybean and grain shippers a new routing option.

The third service, the Lake Erie Shuttle, is a proposed route that will carry cargo for shippers between the ports of Cleveland, Ohio, Detroit and Monroe, Mich.

McAndrews of Mississippi to chair AAPA

The American Association of Port Authorities announced April 12 that Mark McAndrews, director of Port of Pascagoula in Mississippi, has been elected chairman of AAPA for the 2016-17 year that will begin in late October.

Kurt Nagle, president and chief executive of the association, said April 12 that McAndrews is scheduled to be installed as chairman on the final day of AAPA’s 105th convention, set for Oct. 23-26 in New Orleans. At that time, McAndrews will assume the chairmanship from Jim Quinn, president and chief executive of Port Saint John in New Brunswick, Canada. 

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