U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., a member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, yesterday participated in a hearing focused on the nation’s water infrastructure needs and challenges.

Wicker started his remarks by pointing out that the federal government has not been spending revenue surpluses from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMT), which has led to a backlog of maintenance projects around the country. HMT is used to fund the federal share of operation and maintenance of ports, including dredging.

Wicker then asked Mr. William Friedman, chairman-elect of the American Association of Port Authorities, if restoring the full use of revenues from HMT would be sufficient for the funding needs of American ports and navigation channels. Revenues to the fund are approximately $1.8 billion per year. Yet, in recent years, only $900 million has been allocated annually.

Wicker also highlighted a rail relocation project in Pascagoula as an example of the need to have better rail access to the nation’s ports. The lack of “on-dock” railway access is a significant challenge facing ports and a missing piece in the intermodal transportation system.

Other witnesses at the hearing included:

Ms. Julie Ufner, Associate Legislative Director at the National Association of Counties;

  • Mr. Scott Robinson, Port Director at the Muskogee City-County Port Authority in Oklahoma;
  • Mr. Steve Cochran, Associate Vice President for Coastal Protection at the Restore the Mississippi Delta Coalition; and
  • Ms. Nicole Carter, Natural Resources Policy Specialist at the Congressional Research Service.

Senator Roger Wicker Press Release