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U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) recently created the Texas Maritime Caucus, which he will co-chair with Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas).The caucus is charged with promoting Texas' ports and waterway districts, and advocating for law changes to facilitate optimal import/export traffic and passenger transportation. The caucus — which counts nine U.S. representatives from Texas as members — also aims to streamline feasibility studies and projects to ensure Water Resources Development Act provisions mirror changes included in MAP-21."We want to make ports a national conversation, and highlight how Texas ports and waterways facilitate the movement of goods throughout the entire country," said Farenthold in a press release. "We also support a robust Water Resources Development Act that includes provisions to protect and spend down the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund for its intended purpose."Texas Department of Transportation Commissioner Jeff Moseley lauded the new caucus."With maritime commerce in Texas supporting more than one million jobs and port activity generating nearly $135 billion in economic activity, promoting this effort is as important as ever," he said.Meanwhile, the Virginia Port Authority's (VPA) board yesterday approved a long-term restructuring plan aimed at fostering a more efficient, responsive, competitive and customer-focused Port of Virginia.The move authorizes the VPA's officers, staff and terminal operating company, Virginia International Terminals (VIT), to reorganize. The restructuring will take between six months and a year to implement and is estimated to generate savings of between $3 million and $6 million over 12 months.The reorganization's goals include centralizing port operations under the direct oversight of the VPA to align the state's and port's economic development efforts; streamlining port operations and creating efficiencies; eliminating duplicate levels of effort and administration between VPA and VIT; using savings from streamlined operations for infrastructure improvements and increased economic development activity; improving communications, collaboration and cooperation between VPA and VIT; and increasing service personnel.A soon-to-be-named permanent executive director and chief executive officer of the VPA will oversee both organizations, said VPA Chairman William Fralin Jr. in a press release."This is not a workforce reduction effort: VPA and VIT each went through that exercise four years ago. Rather, this collaborative effort sets out multiple goals," he said. "As we leverage our advantages to move this port forward, this restructuring will insure that VPA and VIT are managed and operated as one entity, not two."
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