AAPA chief Nagle praises LaHood’s focus on ports as DOT Secretary
January 30, 2013 - LM Editorial
As reported yesterday, United States Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said he would not serve a second term in his position.
In an e-mail to DOT staffers announcing his decision, LaHood listed a number of accomplishments made by the DOT under his watch. Among them was significant investments made into U.S. ports.
But when it came to ports, LaHood’s tenure as DOT Secretary went beyond just investments, according to Kurt Nagle, president and chief executive officer of the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) in Alexandria, Va.
“AAPA and the public port industry have greatly appreciated Secretary LaHood’s recognition of the importance of ports as a critical link in our transportation system and his support for port related infrastructure investment during his term as Secretary,” Nagle told LM.
Nagle highlighted various port-related accomplishments made by LaHood, whom the AAPA invited to make a presentation at its annual Spring Conference in Washington, D.C., over the last four years, including taking the initiative to hold two national port summits—in San Diego in 2010 and Chicago in 2011—to hear directly from port leaders about the needs and priorities of ports, which Nagle noted were the first such meetings ever conducted.
“From these sessions, we believe the Secretary gained valuable insight into some of the port community’s most pressing concerns, including the need to increase federal funding for port-related infrastructure and to support funding and policies related to short-sea shipping (aka, America’s Marine Highways),” explained Nagle
In terms of infrastructure funding and short-sea shipping, Nagle pointed to how
LaHood was instrumental in supporting the port industry in its quest for TIGER (Transportation Infrastructure Generating Economic Recovery) grants and short-sea shipping legislation
And he also observed how LaHood established the formation of a Freight Policy Council. The mission of the Council is to oversee the condition and performance of the National Freight Network, as defined by the latest surface transportation authorization, known as “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century” (MAP-21), which was recently signed into law. Chaired by Deputy Transportation Secretary John Porcari, the Council includes USDOT leadership from the relevant modes that handle highways, rail, seaports and airports, said Nagle.
AAPA has advocated for a multimodal approach on freight at DOT and Nagle said it believes LaHood’s leadership in establishing the council was a very positive step, particularly as DOT develops a National Freight Policy and implements the freight provisions included in MAP-21.
“In short, Secretary LaHood has been vocal in highlighting the vital role ports play and a strong supporter of the needs of ports during his time as transportation secretary,” said Nagle. “We have very much appreciated his role in raising awareness in the U.S. of the value that ports bring to jobs creation, business development, economic recovery and international trade.”
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