Sen. Van Hollen tours Port of Bal­ti­more

Dredg­ing, in­fras­trure head pri­or­ity list

The Dundalk Eagle - - FRONT PAGE - By VIR­GINIA TER­HUNE vter­hune@ches­pub.com

As a new mem­ber of the Ap­pro­pri­a­tions com­mit­tee in Wash­ing­ton, Sen. Christo­pher Van Hollen will have a say in how fed­eral money is spent. That bodes well for the Port of Bal­ti­more.

“I hope to be a great ad­vo­cate for the Port, for Bal­ti­more and Mary­land,” said Van Hollen af­ter a tour of the port late Tues­day morn­ing.

Van Hollen, who suc­ceeded Sen. Bar­bara Mikul­ski, is one of two Demo­cratic sen­a­tors rep­re­sent­ing Mary­land in Wash­ing­ton, D.C.

One of his du­ties on the Ap­pro­pri­a­tions com­mit­tee will be re­view­ing re­quests for money to dredge Bal­ti­more ship­ping chan­nels, a key re­quire­ment for the Port, which is com­pet­ing with other East Coast ports to ac­com­mo­date su­per­size con­tainer ships now com­ing through the Panama Canal.

The cur­rent fed­eral ap­pro­pri­a­tion bill ex­pires in April, and the com­mit­tee is just now be­gin­ning to re­view it, he said.

“We’re work­ing with the Army Crops of En­gi­neers about de­posit­ing dredge ma­te­ri­als,” he said.

Van Hollen also sits on the Se­nate bud­get com­mit­tee, which is wait­ing to see Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s bud­get for the fed­eral fis­cal year start­ing Oct. 1.

Three weeks ago, the Mary­land del­e­ga­tion pro­posed to the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion a blue­print for fu­ture in­fra­struc­ture spend­ing, some­thing that Trump said he would do dur­ing his cam­paign.

In­vest­ment in re­pair­ing and re­plac­ing roads, bridges, wa­ter and sewer lines and rail lines will not only fix prob­lems but also em­ploy peo­ple in much-needed jobs, he said.

“I wish Congress had started out on a point of com­mon ground rather than [di­vi­sive­ness],” Van Hollen said. “I hope we can get to that point.”

“We’ve asked Repub­li­cans in the ad­min­is­tra­tion to join us in that ef­fort,” he said.

While some have pro­posed pay­ing for con­struc­tion projects through pub­licpri­vate part­ner­ships, Van Hollen said a sig­nif­i­cant pub­lic in­vest­ment will still be needed.

“It can’t be solely through tax breaks,” he said.

In the mean­time, Mary­land has reap­plied to fed­eral Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion’s Fast­lane pro­gram af­ter be­ing turned down the first time for money to ex­pand the Howard Street tun­nel in Bal­ti­more to al­low rail cars to carry one ship­ping con­tainer stacked on top of an­other.

“We’re work­ing closely I hope with the new ad­min­is­tra­tion to ac­cess these funds,” Van Hollen said.

VIR­GINIA TER­HUNE

Mary­land Sen. Chris Van Hollen, left, talks with Dave Thomas, deputy ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Mary­land Port Ad­min­is­tra­tion, and CSX’s ex­ec­u­tive Brian Ham­mock, right, dur­ing a tour of the Sea­girt and Dun­dalk ma­rine ter­mi­nals on Feb. 21.

PHO­TOS BY VIR­GINIA TER­HUNE

Sen. Chris Van Hollen, third from left, pre­pares to meet the press af­ter tour­ing the Port of Bal­ti­more on Feb. 21. A Demo­crat, Van Hollen suc­ceeded Sen. Bar­bara Mikul­ski in rep­re­sent­ing Mary­land in Wash­ing­ton, D.C.

A mo­bile ve­hi­cle equipped with a boom scans ship­ping con­tain­ers for il­le­gal or un­de­clared cargo com­ing into the Port of Bal­ti­more.

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