Posted on November 7, 2023
(Bloomberg) — The White House announced more than $653 million in awards for port infrastructure projects across the country Friday, in a push to strengthen post-pandemic supply chains.
Among the largest awards are a rail expansion and roadway improvement project in Long Beach, California that will get $52.6 million and a Tacoma, Washington port terminal expansion receiving $54.2 million.
About a quarter of the projects are on the East Coast, while a similar share are inland and in the Midwest of the country, including work in Arkansas and Wisconsin. Seven of the projects awarded are in Alaska.
Forty-one projects across 26 states and territories won funding, having competed in a pool of 153 applications that sought a total of $2.8 billion in financing.
The supply chain chaos that roiled US ports and railways during the pandemic largely eased as global trade volumes fell from record highs in the last year. But inflation — in part caused by port bottlenecks, shortages and delays — is still above the Federal Reserve’s 2% target and prices remain elevated.
“The goal is not to get American supply chains back to what they looked like in 2019, which was adequate on a good day but not able to handle a disruption,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said on a call with other administration officials and reporters before the announcement.
About two-thirds of the $653 million was designated through the $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which provides $450 million a year for port infrastructure for five years. The other third came from funds appropriated by Congress, administration officials said.
Biden has spotlighted his infrastructure spending and efforts to bolster US supply chains as a central plank of his economic agenda, but those efforts have struggled to translate into political gains. Polls show voters disapprove of Biden’s handling of the economy.
On infrastructure, a recent Bloomberg/Morning Consult poll found only 38% of voters in seven swing states trust Biden to handle the issue, compared to 42% who trust former President Donald Trump, the front-runner for the 2024 Republican nomination.
Biden officials are crisscrossing the country to highlight the administration’s investments from the infrastructure law.
“We didn’t pass the bill for election purposes,” Mitch Landrieu, the president’s infrastructure coordinator, said on The Big Take podcast. “Everybody hopes they get credit for what they do, but this is a very, very deep dive.”