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Brownwater News, March 2018

Mar 14, 2018 04:29 PM

Coast Guard tables Hudson River anchorage proposal

The U.S. Coast Guard has decided to take no action on a shipping industry proposal to establish 10 new anchorages along the Hudson River, effectively tabling the plan in the face of opposition from environmental advocates.

The Coast Guard released a Ports and Waterways Safety Assessment (PAWSA) on March 13 after public workshops last fall on the proposal, which called for new anchorages for commercial ships, mostly oil tankers, from Yonkers to Kingston. Shippers argued that the measure would help ensure the safety of their vessels and crews.

Opponents, including environmental groups and state and local elected officials, cited the potential for oil spills among their chief concerns. The Coast Guard received more than 10,000 comments on the proposal.

In its assessment, the Coast Guard stated that it "has not yet made any decisions regarding establishing anchorages or using other waterways management tools to manage navigation risk on the Hudson River. The Coast Guard will use this PAWSA report, together with other information, to determine whether, and to what extent, regulatory actions are needed."

The Coast Guard acknowledged that existing anchorage regulations are unclear and said it is "considering how those regulations could be made more readily understood." While the service said it had "no outcome timelines" regarding new anchorages, it did not close the door on a similar proposal in the future.

"Any other substantive rule-making effort associated with the Hudson River will follow Coast Guard public notice and comment rule-making procedures to allow for public participation in the process," the PAWSA stated.

The assessment also recommended the creation of a Hudson River safety committee to bring together stakeholders and open a dialogue on recreational boating and the clarification of regulations.

Four maritime projects receive 2017 TIGER grants

Four maritime projects — in Alabama, Maryland, Iowa and Louisiana — will receive $62.7 million in grants through the federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program. Forty-one recipients nationwide will get nearly $500 million in this year's round of funding, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced March 9.

The fiscal year 2017 TIGER program gave special consideration to projects that emphasized improved access to reliable, safe and affordable transportation for rural communities, such as projects that improve infrastructure, address public health and safety, promote regional connectivity, or facilitate economic growth or competitiveness.

Here are the four maritime projects supported by TIGER grants this year:

• Southeast Automotive Gateway, Alabama State Port Authority — $12.7 million to convert an abandoned bulk-handling facility at the Port of Mobile into a roll-on/roll-off mobile vehicle processing facility.

• Mid-Atlantic Multi-Modal Transportation Hub, Baltimore County, Maryland — $20 million to build modern cargo-handling facilities at Sparrows Point in East Baltimore. The initiative is part of a larger investment program to repurpose a former steel manufacturing site with marine service into a multimodal logistics hub.

• City of Burlington (Iowa) Downtown/Riverfront Revitalization Project — $17 million to install new boat ramps and docking facilities for use by river cruise lines and recreational boaters, convert parts of Main and Jefferson streets into complete streets, construct a linear multi-use path park, and construct a new waterfront community gathering area and parking lots.

• Reconstruction of the Chalmette Slip Project, St. Bernard Port, Harbor and Terminal District, Louisiana — $13 million to rehabilitate to modern design standards the last two original wharf sections, A and F, which have been maintained but have exceeded their useful lives over the past 110 years.

As with previous rounds of TIGER, funds for the FY 2017 program are awarded on a competitive basis "for projects that will have a significant impact on the nation, a metropolitan area, or a region." The FY 2017 Appropriations Act specifies that TIGER grants may not be less than $5 million and not greater than $25 million except in rural areas, where the minimum TIGER grant is $1 million.

Coast Guard, NOAA to include inland rules in US Coast Pilot

The Coast Guard and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have teamed up on a publication that will serve as a "one-stop shop" for inland regulations, Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) rules and COLREGS, with the goal of saving mariners time and money.

The Coast Guard Office of Navigation Systems and NOAA Office of Coast Survey will incorporate the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972 (COLREGS) and the Inland Navigation Rules into NOAA’s U.S. Coast Pilot. The publication already includes the Coast Guard’s VTS regulations.

“Adding the navigation rules into the Coast Pilot conveniently places three essential navigation safety publications into one easily available publication, available in either bound hard copy or electronic format,” said Capt. Mary Ellen Durley, chief of the Coast Guard Office of Navigation Systems. “The U.S. Coast Pilot will now provide a one-stop shop for these required publications.”

“Making essential navigational products readily available and convenient for the mariner is a priority for NOAA,” said Capt. James Crocker, chief of NOAA's Office of Coast Survey Navigation Services Division. “We are pleased to collaborate with the U.S. Coast Guard in making the navigation rules available in all nine volumes of the Coast Pilot — three required publications in one free download.”

To access the Coast Pilot, visit https://www.nauticalcharts.noaa.gov/publications/coast-pilot/index.html.

AAPA conference to focus on value, needs of hemisphere's ports

Maritime-savvy government officials, CEOs and leaders from port authorities throughout the Western Hemisphere will be among the participants at the 2018 Spring Conference of the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA), to be held March 20-21 in Washington, D.C.

Conference highlights will include the presentation of the Port Person of the Year award to Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas; a keynote luncheon address by U.S. Rep. Garret Graves, R-La., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment; and policy presentations by David MacNaughton, Canada’s ambassador to the United States, and by Richard Balzano, deputy administrator of the U.S. Maritime Administration (MarAd).

A session called "Perception vs. Reality on Trade" will feature the perspectives of trade experts from a variety of industry sectors. Panelists include Evelyn Suarez of The Suarez Firm; Bruce Stokes of the Pew Research Center; Yuri Unno of Toyota Motor North America; Julia Hughes of the U.S. Fashion Industry Association; and Brian Kuehl of Farmers for Free Trade. In another session, "The Future of the Workforce," panelists will discuss port industry employment challenges and possible solutions. The business program will conclude on March 21 with panels addressing prospects for infrastructure and water resources legislation in this year’s Congress.

The following day, AAPA will lead a delegation of U.S. port authority members to Capitol Hill to advocate on a host of issues important to their ports.

For more information about AAPA’s 2018 Spring Conference agenda and speakers, visit https://my.aapa-ports.org/Public/Events/Event_Display.aspx?EventKey=17SPRING.

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