U.S. ports in fiscal 2013 would get $1 billion for maintenance dredging, the largest annual federal award for navigation work, under the latest energy and water appropriations bill.
The funding, drawn from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, will not be enough to full fund all of the presidentially requested projects for the Corps, however. The fund collects roughly $1.5 billion through the harbor maintenance tax annually, and is expected to have a surplus of nearly $7 billion by the end of fiscal 2013.
But roughly one-third of the collected taxes are used to plug other budget gaps, instead of being used to dredge channels and harbors. The House on Wednesday passed a 90-day extension to the surface transportation bill that includes language requiring all HMTF dollars be used for navigation projects. The Senate’s competing transport plan includes similar language.
“While still less than the need for full use of the Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT), this funding level marks a significant achievement in [the Association of American Port Authorities’] longstanding efforts to ensure that the HMT is fully utilized to maintain our nation’s federal navigation channels at their authorized, and required, dimensions,” said President and CEO Kurt Nagle.