WASHINGTON, DC -- The House passed H.R. 3080, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA), which is a bipartisan bill that authorizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to develop, maintain, and support the nation's vital port and waterways infrastructure needs, flood protection and environmental restoration. The Senate has already passed its version of the bill. The House bill passed by a vote of 417-3.
Representative Mike Michaud, who is a cosponsor of the bill and a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee that advanced it, was able to include several important provisions that impact Maine.
"I'm pleased that the House was able to pass this bipartisan bill, and I'm confident it will help advance timely improvements to our nation's maritime infrastructure. Our ports, harbors and inland waterways are vital to the health of our local and national economies. They provide trade opportunities for our businesses and are critical to boosting our national competitiveness. This is the type of jobs bill Congress needs to move more often so that we can provide a significant boost to our economy and put more people back to work," said Michaud.
Provisions Michaud worked to include in the bill can be found below:
Boosting investments in smaller harbors: Currently, roughly only half of annual revenues to the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) are spent for their intended purpose each year. Those expenditures have typically gone to the nation's busiest harbors, causing a significant backlog of unmet maintenance needs at small and medium sized harbors, like those in Maine. WRRDA increases annual expenditures from the HMTF in order to address that maintenance backlog. It also includes a two year dedicated set aside to ensure small ports and harbors receive at least 10% of annual maintenance funding--a priority of the Maine Department of Transportation.
Rockland Harbor: The bill includes language to slightly modify the boundaries of Rockland Harbor. The change was sought by the city and will give local businesses greater flexibility to serve the local economy. Specifically, it will allow for the efficient processing of lobster bait, helping to prevent prices from increasing for lobstermen throughout the state.
Cape Arundel Disposal Site: The bill includes a provision to reopen the Cape Arundel dredged material disposal site, which will significantly reduce the cost of Army Corps projects in southern Maine. For example, it will reduce the York Harbor dredging project costs by approximately $1.2 million. Further savings will be achieved on future projects.
Use of advanced composites: The bill includes language promoting the use of resilient construction practices and durable materials, including "advanced composites." The provision will help ensure infrastructure lasts longer, and can withstand ever more powerful storms. It will also help developers and manufacturers of these materials in Maine, such as the University of Maine and companies like Dragon Products.