Members of a Senate committee on May 4 were briefed by TTI researchers who addressed the role of transportation in Texas export supply chains and the state financing of coastal ports. The testimony before the Texas Senate Select Committee on Texas Ports was provided by Ginger Goodin, Director of TTI’s Transportation Policy Research Center, and Jim Kruse, Director of TTI’s Center for Ports and Waterways.
Kruse pointed out that ports, by nature, are very capital-intensive operations. They are required to look into the future 30 to 50 years and build costly infrastructure they believe will be of value for that length of time. This makes planning a difficult exercise and often puts ports in the position of needing financial assistance to meet changing market demands. State government may play a role in these situations. There are three general categories of state funding: contributions to channel improvement projects, direct state funding to port authorities, and indirect funding and incentive programs designed to encourage port development. Kruse also noted that every state handles its port infrastructure needs differently. Florida and Louisiana seem to offer the most comprehensive and effective models for channeling state funds to ports on an ongoing basis.