Tuesday, February 9, 2010

DOT Chief Addresses First National Port Summit

The nation's top transportation official, speaking to a gathering of United States port officials on Friday, said that the agency believes the nation's maritime hubs can play a central role in the overall economic recovery.

US Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood also announced a $600 million investment grant program aimed at helping port authorities and other local entities achieve the goal.

"I consider the ports to be the real economic engines all over America," said the Secretary.

LaHood's comments came at the first National Port Summit, a two-day event, organized by the federal government, which drew nearly 100 officials from more than 50 domestic port authorities.

The goal of the summit was to figure out ways to create and fund a national port system, much like the domestic system for ground freight movement.

"People have got to be willing to set aside their own agendas and own egos and work together," said LaHood.

Port of San Diego President/CEO Charlie Wurster told the attendees that while the 361 ports in the US compete with each other for market share, they have a collective interest in a national port system.

"We're talking about the infrastructure to make the goods flow better across the wharf and into our transportation networks of either rail or highway," said Wurster.

Attendees at the summit will submit recommendations developed at the event to the DOT for further consideration.

tags: DOT, Port of San Diego