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About Port Infrastructure Development Grants

As part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2019 (Pub. L, 116-6, February 15, 2019), Congress authorized $292.73 million for Port Infrastructure Development Program grants to provide grants for a broad range of improvements within, or around, coastal seaports (see Eligible Projects, below) to improve safety, reliability, or efficiency. The $292.73 million appropriated for the grant program remains available until expended. The funding is broken down into two categories:

  1. $200 million to be made available for infrastructure improvements at all coastal seaports; and
  2. An additional $92.73 million allocated to fund improvements at the 15 coastal seaports that handled the greatest number of loaded foreign and domestic twenty- foot equivalent units (TEUs) in 2016, as identified by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Port Infrastructure Development Program is a competitive grant program and awards will be based on merit according to the criteria published in the applicable Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO). A link to the NOFO is provided. Grant applications must be submitted through the grants.gov website (www.grants.gov). Please refer to the “How to Apply” section of this website for further instructions.

For the Port Infrastructure Development Program, a coastal seaport is defined as a port that can accommodate deep-draft vessels (20-foot draft or greater) directly from other foreign or domestic seaports.

Eligible Projects:

  • Projects within the boundaries of a coastal seaport; or
  • Projects outside the boundaries of a coastal seaport and directly related to port operations or to an intermodal connection to a port.

All projects should improve the safety, efficiency, or reliability of the movement of goods into, out of, around, or within a port, as well as the unloading and loading of cargo at a port.

Examples of eligible seaport related projects include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Port gate improvements, including digital innovations to improve flow;
  • Road improvements both within and connecting to the port;
  • Rail improvements both within and connecting to the port;
  • Berth improvements including docks, wharves, piers and dredging incidental to the improvement project (maintenance dredging may not be considered competitive and navigation channel improvements are not eligible for this grant program);
  • Cargo moving equipment used shoreside (all equipment must be Buy American Act compliant);
  • Facilities necessary to improve cargo transport including silos, elevators, conveyors, container terminals, Ro/Ro facilities including parking garages necessary for intermodal freight transfer, warehouses including refrigerated facilities, bunkering facilities for oil or gas products, lay-down areas, transit sheds, and other such facilities;
  • Utilities necessary for safe operations including lighting, stormwater, and other such improvements that are incidental to a larger infrastructure project; and
  • Port related intelligent transportation system hardware and software – all technologies used to promote efficient port movements including routing and communications for vessels, trucks, and rail cargo movements as well as flow through processing for import/export requirements, storage and tracking, and asset/equipment management.

Vessel construction projects are not eligible for this program.

Cost Sharing or Matching:

A minimum 20 percent non-Federal funding match;

  • The Federal share of the grant award may be up to 80 percent of eligible project costs;
  • Applications that offer greater non-Federal match will be considered more competitive as it leverages more benefit per Federal dollar spent.
  • For the purpose of satisfying the minimum 20 percent non-Federal match requirement proceeds of Federal credit assistance under Chapter 6 of Title 23, United States Code, or Sections 501-504 of the Railroad and Revitalization and Regulatory Act of 1976 (Pub. L. 94-210) shall be considered part of the non-Federal share of project costs if the loan is repayable from non-Federal funds. However, for the purpose of evaluating leverage as a competitive selection criterion, those proceeds are considered part of the Federal share of project costs.

Evaluation Criteria

  • Leveraging of Federal funding – To maximize the impact of Port Infrastructure Development Program grant awards, the Department seeks to leverage Port Infrastructure Development Program funding with non-Federal contributions.  Each project will be assigned a rating based on how the calculated non-Federal share of the project’s future eligible project costs compares with other projects proposed for Port Infrastructure Development Program grant funding;
  • Project costs and benefits – The Department will consider the costs and benefits of projects seeking Port Infrastructure Development Program funding.  To the extent possible, the Department will rely on quantitative, data-supported analysis to assess how well a project addresses this criterion, including an assessment of the project’s estimated benefit-cost ratio and net benefits based on the applicant’s supplied Benefit/Cost Analysis (BCA). Guidance for the preparation of a BCA can be found here;
  • Project outcomes – The Department will evaluate the grant application to determine whether the project advances each of the following five project outcomes.  Among otherwise comparable applications, one that advances at least one of these outcomes will be more competitive than one that does not.
    • Advance technology supported safety and design efficiency improvements by incorporating technology or innovative approaches to port safety, design, or efficiency.
    • Improve state of good repair and resiliency by addressing current or projected vulnerabilities in the condition of port transportation facilities.
    • Promote efficient energy trade by supporting the efficient movement of domestically produced energy products and/or increasing national energy capacity.
    • Promote manufacturing, agriculture, or other forms of exports by increasing the efficient movement of exports and/or increasing national export capacity.
    • For only the top 15 coastal seaports, support the safe flow of agricultural and food products, free of pests and disease, domestically and internationally.
  • Demonstrated project readiness – Consideration of project readiness to assess the likelihood of a successful project, including risks associated with environmental review, permitting, technical feasibility, funding, and the applicant’s capacity to manage project delivery;
  • Domestic preference – Consideration of whether an exception/waiver of the Buy American provisions will be necessary to complete the project; and
  • Additional considerations including the following:
    • Geographic diversity among applicants;
    • Location in a qualified opportunity zone;
    • Construction of phytosanitary treatment facilities as defined in section 305.1 of title 7, Code of Federal Regulations, to meet the phytosanitary treatment requirements of sections 305.5 through 305.8 of title 7, Code of Federal Regulations; and
    • For projects that incorporate fully automated cargo-handling equipment, consideration of job change that will result from the project, including whether the project will directly result in net job loss.
Updated: Tuesday, September 3, 2019