The state of California and the U.S. Department of Transportation are teaming to modernize supply chain infrastructure and speed goods movement.
Under the new Emerging Projects Agreement, announced Oct. 28, the Build America Bureau at USDOT will support the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) in developing infrastructure projects that “improve the capacity and resiliency of the goods movement chain”—and help finance those projects, in part through USDOT’s Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) and Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) credit assistance programs.
Among the projects that could receive loans for making combined multi-billion-dollar improvements to California’s supply chain infrastructure:
• “Port-specific upgrades.
• “Expanding capacity for freight rail.
• “Developing inland port facilities for increased warehouse storage.
• “Rail yard and truck electrification.
• “Highway upgrades to improve truck travel times.
• “Grade-separated crossings to reduce the number of rail-street intersections, and improve safety and efficiency.
• “Land ports of entry to expand trade capacity and cross-border commerce.
• “Other eligible projects of critical importance identified by CalSTA.”
The agreement will allow “California to expedite work on a network of related projects—rather than using a piecemeal approach,” USDOT said. The agency noted that the projects will be considered “based on their potential for strengthening supply chain resilience and in a manner that addresses equity and environmental justice.”
“Today’s [Oct. 28] announcement marks an innovative partnership with California that will help modernize our infrastructure, confront climate change, speed the movement of goods and grow our economy,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said.
“The COVID-19 pandemic put a spotlight on California’s ports and the importance of our state’s infrastructure in moving goods throughout the U.S. and around the world,” CalSTA Secretary David S. Kim said. “Today’s [Oct. 28] agreement will go a long way toward quickly upgrading infrastructure to support a more efficient and resilient supply chain that will flex California’s power in global trade. I am proud to work with the Biden-Harris Administration on long-term solutions to enhance California’s infrastructure and strengthen resilience throughout the supply chain.”
“With today’s [Oct. 28] agreement, we will create an innovative federal-state partnership that will serve as a model for other states,” said John D. Porcari, Port Envoy to the Biden Administration’s Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force.
“Having our federal and state transportation agencies working in unison to help fund infrastructure is exactly what we need,” Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka said. “We have projects in need of funding that will reduce cargo delays, improve efficiency, reduce emissions and improve safety for waterfront workers and motorists throughout the region.”
“This federal-state partnership will ensure the creation of local infrastructure projects aimed at improving freight movement between the San Pedro Bay ports complex and distribution centers in the Inland Empire,” Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero said. “This plan builds on our ongoing efforts to identify immediate and long-term solutions that will expedite cargo shipments and address an historic cargo surge and forecasted cargo growth.”
The Emerging Projects Agreement follows Calif. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Oct. 20 executive order to help tackle supply chain issues, as well as ongoing efforts of the Biden-Harris Task Force on Supply Chain Disruptions.
Gov. Newsom’s order directs state agencies “to develop longer-term solutions that support port operations and goods movement for consideration in the January 10 Governor’s Budget, which may include port and transportation infrastructure improvements, electrification of the goods movement system from port to delivery, and workforce development.” The order also directs agencies “to identify state-owned properties and other locations that could be available to address short-term storage needs once goods are unloaded from ships; to identify priority freight routes to be considered for a temporary exemption to current gross vehicle limits to allow for trucks to carry additional goods; and to create workforce training and education programs.”
Meanwhile, the Biden-Harris Task Force is working with private companies from across the supply chain “to expand supply chain operations to 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and helping them to make faster handoffs to each other,” USDOT reported. “So far, both the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach; the ILWU [International Longshore and Warehouse Union]; Union Pacific Railroad; and retailers, including Walmart, Target, FedEx, UPS and The Home Depot, have committed to expanding hours. Further, USDOT is working with local and state DMVs to cut bureaucratic red tape and make it easier for truck drivers to obtain commercial driver’s licenses (CDL). …”