Ports Authority submits new request for $70M in federal grants
The Puerto Rico Ports Authority has submitted a second request for a grant of federal funds, this time for $70 million, under the US Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration, known as MARAD.
The federal agency runs the Port Infrastructure Development Program (PIDP), through which Puerto Rico is seeking funds for the reconstruction of Pier C, the fire extinguishing system, and for an alternative energy and fuel power generation system for the Port of San Juan, in Puerto Nuevo and Isla Grande.
Ports Executive Director Joel A. Pizá said seeking to “take advantage of every opportunity to compete for federal subsidies that make the development of projects viable,” as MARAD announces their availability, he requested funds for improvements to the loading docks in Puerto Nuevo, as well as for additional improvements to the port front facilities.
The PIDP is the second program, out of a total of six, that MARAD makes available, he said.
The Ports Authority incorporated the island’s maritime industry into the development of the strategic plan it prepared to submit applications for short-term federal subsidies and during the five-year implementation of financing under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), which contemplates the allocation of $17 billion for port infrastructure.
Several meetings have been held with the maritime industry, including an outreach event, to inform and encourage them to participate in the processes related to applications for MARAD funds, Pizá said.
Among the participating companies are Tote Maritime, Luis Ayala Colón and Sucrs., Crowley and Trailer Bridge.
“The electric microgrid project is crucial to be able to improve the operation of the cargo terminals and plays a very important role, not only to optimize energy generation, but also to achieve a more resilient and sustainable future in the island,” said Puerto Rico Shipowners Association President Clarivette Díaz.
As part of the request process, the companies that participate will do so through a matching of funds, which allows them to increase the chances that the project can be chosen by federal agencies, Pizá said.
The Port of San Juan plays a significant role in the US’s economic competitiveness, as international carriers serve the Port along Caribbean and Latin American routes. It plays an essential role in supplying food, fuel, and manufactured goods to the people of Puerto Rico.
According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, 80% of food and the fuel supplying 98% of the island’s electricity come from outside sources. Much of those and other important commodities pass through the Port of San Juan, agency officials said.
The Port of San Juan received 2.98 million tons of petroleum, 2.62 million tons of food, and 2.04 million tons of manufactured products in 2019.