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Thank you, Chris [Fischer, port director]. Good morning.

This is a great day for the port of Beaumont, for Texas, and for those of us who care about America’s maritime future, and our national and economic security.

I’m pleased to bring you greetings from my boss, Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao, who is a strong advocate for the maritime industry. We are so lucky to have her representing us in the president’s cabinet.

As you may know, President Trump and Secretary Chao have voiced their support and desire to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure.

To most people, that means investing in roads and bridges, airports and rail.

BUt certainly there is a lot more to it, and the administration has made clear that infrastructure issues include maritime issues.

That encompasses our economic gateways – our ports – our intermodal networks, and making sure we’ve got healthy shipbuilding and repair facilities and, of course, a trained workforce.

Today, we’re of course focused on port infrastructure, and this grant from the u.s. department of transportation will do a great deal of good for the port of Beaumont.

This $18 million multimodal corridor expansion and improvement project will reconstruct condemned wharves 2, 3, and 4 at the Main Street Terminal 1.

It adds approximately 16,000 linear feet of new rail track. And it realigns and upgrades more than 4,000 feet of existing rail track at the Buford Rail Yard Interchange, and replaces a deteriorated grain dock.

In total, it will bring the Main Street Terminal into a good state of repair to restore dock service to handle military, breakbulk, and project cargoes.

These improvements at the port will be especially beneficial once the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada, or USMCA, trade agreement is in place. President Trump has made its implementation a priority because the agreement will do a great deal to help American workers by eliminating trade barriers throughout North America.

While many here in Beaumont understand this port’s importance to the local and national economy, too few Americans grasp how vital our ports are for national security.

This is homeport for three of the ships of my ready reserve force: CAPE TAYLOR, CAPE TEXAS, and CAPE TRINITY. These are among the 46 RRF vessels that are the first to sail, moving our troops and their equipment when they deploy overseas, or in support of domestic disaster assistance.

The Port is also part of the essential multimodal network that supports the deployment of U.S. forces. That’s a fancy way of saying the port is part of a system, along with rail and roads, that supports military sealift, which moves those troops and military cargoes safely and efficiently. As a matter of fact, it’s the largest military outload port in the Nation.

The economic health of this port and of the broader U.S. maritime industry matters as well. The very mariners you see crewing the U.S. -flag commercial ships transiting this harbor are the same men and women I must rely on to crew our government-owned RRF sealift vessels. They are patriots who do this on a volunteer basis.

So, the more cargoes you see moving in and out of this port on U.S.-flag ships, the more ships and mariners are there for our sealift requirements.

We couldn’t protect our nation and her interests as well if it weren’t for those U.S.-flag vessels, American mariners, and that network of ports, roads and rail, which is why this investment in the port of Beaumont supports America’s economic and national security.

So, I congratulate the Port of Beaumont on this big win that comes with this very big novelty check. But we promise you that the money is very real!

Updated: Thursday, February 27, 2020