Wednesday, 11 September 2013 12:10


photo by Roland Dorsey

Marine Terminal stop highlights new port funding

by Nicole Rodman

Vice President Joseph  Biden highlighted the Port of Baltimore’s recently-announced $10 million federal grant during a visit to the Dundalk Marine Terminal on Monday. (for video of Biden speech click here)
    In July, the port submitted an application for a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) Discretionary Grant program.
    Since 2009, the DOT has awarded federal TIGER grant funds to transportation pro-jects across the nation.
    The port was among 568 applicants across the nation seeking funds.alt
    Earlier this month, it was announced that the port had won its bid to  receive a $10 million TIGER grant.
    The grant, along with $19.5 million from the Maryland Department of Transportation, will be used to fund further dredging at the Seagirt Marine Terminal and the creation of a new cargo staging area at the Fairfield Marine Terminal.
    During Monday’s event, the Vice President, along with several other government officials, touted the grant, as well as other recent port projects.
    In anticipation of the  widening of the Panama Canal — set to be completed in 2015 — last year the Port of Baltimore completed construction of a 50-foot berth to accomodate a new class of “Super Post-Panamax” cargo ships.
    In May, the port dedicated four new cranes able to unload cargo from the largest ships in the world.
    At 400 feet tall, the new cranes can lift up to 187,500 pounds of cargo at a time.alt
    With the these recent improvements, the Port of Baltimore is one of only two East Coast ports able to accomodate the new larger cargo ships.
    In her remarks at Monday’s event, Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake thanked Maryland congressional leaders including representatives C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, Elijah Cummings and John Sarbanes for their work in supporting the port.
    Also speaking at the event, Rep. Sarbanes discussed the importance of public-private partnerships and the need to rebuild the country’s aging infrastructure.
    Following Sarbanes, Ruppersberger took time to highlight the port as an engine for creating jobs in the region.
    “What’s so important, and what we need to do for our city, our state, our country, is to create jobs,” he noted.
    Echoing this sentiment during his remarks, Cummings commented, “Every time I see someone working, I know that there is someone with dignity.”
    “People want to work.”
    After a brief intermission, Sens. Benjamin Cardin and Barbara Mikuski and Gov. Martin O’Malley  joined U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and Vice President Biden onstage.
    Both Cardin and Mikulski praised Maryland’s local and national leaders for their work in bringing funding to the Port of Baltimore.   
    “We know that the Port of Baltimore is open for business, but the Maryland delegation means business,” Mikulski said, highlighting the efforts of Maryland’s congressional leaders in securing funding for the port throughout the years.
    For his part, Secretary Foxx spoke of the importance of investing in infrastructure, including transportation, as the key to improving the economy.
    “When we improve our infrastructure, we necessarily improve our economy,” he explained.
    Before the Vice President took his turn at the podium, O’Malley took a few minutes to tout the progress at the port.
    Gesturing to the new 14-story cranes stretched out behind him, O’Malley noted that such improvements mean economic development for the area.
    “That’s jobs; that’s a stronger middle class,” he noted.alt
    Finally, Biden stepped up to offer a few remarks of his own.
    Greeting the assembled crowd, the vice president explained that, though he is from Delaware, he has roots in the Dundalk area.
    “My family started in Dundalk,” he explained, adding, “that’s where they lived, according to my father and grandfather.”
    During his speech, Biden highlighted the importance of ports to the U.S. economy.
    He noted, “70 percent of commerce is sitting in the hulls of ships on the world’s oceans.”
    He also echoed Sarbanes and others in calling for the rebuilding of the nation’s infrastructure.
    Referring to the recently-announced TIGER grant, Biden explained that the program was “conceived by our administration to build a 21st-Century infrastructure and a 21st-Century economy.”
    Aiding ports like the Port of Baltimore in expanding their services, Biden noted, will also allow for the creation of more jobs, both in Maryland and nationwide.
    The aim, he said, is not just to create jobs, but to create well-paying middle-class jobs that will allow workers to support a family.
    “Everything we’re doing is designed to build the middle class,” he said.
    Biden was animated as he spoke of the role of infrastructure in promoting the growth of manufacturing in the U.S.
    “Manufacturing is coming back to the United States,” he noted, adding that “companies will only come back if they have the best infrastructure in the world.”
    Biden concluded his remarks by assuring the audience that America will be able to compete in the global marketplace in the years to come.
    “Given a level playing field, we can out-compete any country in the world,” he said. “It all starts at the Port of Baltimore and ports around the country.”