Van Hollen supports trillion dollar infrastructure plan; money could impact Port of Baltimore

Posted at 5:57 PM, Feb 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-21 18:21:13-05

After introducing a $1 trillion investment proposal, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen is hoping should it pass, some of the funding could be used for the state's infrastructure -- including the Port of Baltimore. 

In his first time touring the port as a U.S. Senator, Chris Van Hollen says he and other Senate democrats want to create an infrastructure bank that will finance several necessary projects including expanding operations at the port to bring in more cargo, more jobs, and more money for the local economy.

As the record ten million tons of general cargo make way through the bustling Port of Baltimore, Van Hollen says there could, and should, be more. 

"The Port of Baltimore is a huge job engine for the state of Maryland. It's growing. It's breaking records. For the third year in a row, they were ranked the most efficient port," the new senator said. 

Van Hollen toured the port, anxious to to talk about the importance of investing in the state and the country's infrastructure. 

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Last month, he joined other Senate democrats to push a 'blueprint' to rebuild the country's roads, bridges, and even ports. 

"We've said 'join us.' We have a plan. A lot of us have been pushing for many years to try to have a comprehensive infrastructure modernization plan. So we're going to continue to press," Van Hollen said, referring to the plan that was brought to Senate republicans last year. 

The trillion dollar deal could trickle down to the state's deteriorating thoroughfares and chip into the necessary funding to dredge the port to clear channels for bigger cargo ships. 

"Without the dredging being taken care of, without new land development opportunities, we can't grow the port," one representative with the port said. 

On a smaller scale, Van Hollen is hoping to improve port production by improving the Howard Street Tunnel in the city -- one to two feet of clearance to the tunnel could bring 6000 direct jobs and give the port a competitive advantage.

"Which would be really important to increasing the ability of the port to bring in cargo to get it out by rail more quickly," Van Hollen added. 

A quicker option for businesses and a bigger boom to the port's growth. 

"We've been working as a congressional delegation to try to get the funds for the Howard Street tunnel through what's called the 'fast lane' program in the Department of Transportation," Van Hollen said. 

The program is grant money that addresses the $425 million problem, at least in part. 

"There's no reason projects like the Howard Street Tunnel can not go forward," he said.

One step in improving infrastructure and improving what Van Hollen calls an economic engine in the state.

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