The Federal Infrastructure Bill and its Impacts on Working Waterfronts | National Working Waterfronts Podcast

September 21, 2021

Yet another reason to pass the Infrastructure Bill: ports!

At the intersection of land and sea, the state of working waterfronts can provide insight into the health of our economy and natural resources. The infrastructure that supports working waterfront activities has lacked major investment for many decades, leaving it vulnerable to natural and manmade risks. The current administration has proposed a major piece of legislation in the form of a Federal bipartisan infrastructure bill that may provide a boost our country has not seen since the development of the interstate highway system. One particular focus of the bill is our coastal infrastructure, in particular major Ports. These economic hubs rely on coastal and inland infrastructure to transport the goods that are both imported and exported by the United States. Their need to be on the waterfront is shared by a variety of different activities which can often be in conflict and require balance. Not only that, waterfronts and the industries that reside there face many challenges that include declining water quality, loss of public access and traditional uses, competing demands, population growth, and threats from climate change like ocean acidification, sea level rise and erosion. Though the nation’s working waterfronts vary greatly in scale and type of activities they support, their common and defining characteristic is the physical access to navigable waters for uses that depend on this access.  Regardless of size, these waterfronts are distinctive and irreplaceable assets contributing to the economies and culture of their regions, which is why an investment like the infrastructure bill could be imperative to their survival. This episode will focus on the question of how exactly this major legislation will benefit working waterfronts and their uses.

Show Transcription
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Ashley Bennis

Ashley Bennis is a Michigan native that grew up in Metro Detroit and received her Bacherlors of Art from Wayne State University. Bennis began volunteering with nonprofits in the city and became very involved in the community revitalization happening there through coordinated public outreach and education efforts. She earned her master’s degree in Urban Design and Planning with a specialty in Environmental Planning from the University of Washington in 2016. While there she worked as a Research Assistant with the Institute for Hazard Mitigation, Planning and Research, an interdisciplinary team focused on helping communities plan for hazard events. The purpose of her project was to improve visual representations of FEMA’s revised floodplain maps to help with their usefulness and effectiveness for residents in flood prone areas. In the winter of 2018, she joined Texas Sea Grant as a planning specialist with the Community Resilience Collaborative, a partnership of Texas Sea Grant and the Texas Target Communities program in Texas A&M University’s College of Architecture. Her primary responsibility is to provide technical assistance to Coastal Bend and Rio Grande Valley coastal communities in land use planning and hazard mitigation.