U.S. DOT boosts plans to divert traffic to waterways

Feds pick marine corridors, projects and initiatives eligible for funding to move cargo

News U.S. DOT August 11, 2010
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Just four months after unveiling the America’s Marine Highway Program, a new initiative to move more cargo on the water rather than on crowded highways, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has announced his selection of marine highway corridors and an initial eight projects and six initiatives along the corridors that will be eligible for $7 million in federal assistance under the program.

“Making better use of our rivers and coastal routes offers an intelligent way to relieve some of the biggest challenges we face in transportation: congestion on our roads, climate change, fossil fuel energy use and soaring road maintenance costs,” said LaHood. “There is no better time for us to improve the use of our rivers and coasts for transportation.”

The selected corridors are along the West, East and Gulf Coasts, the Great Lakes and many of America’s inland waterways. The Maritime Administration will assist the project sponsors in developing marine transportation services and with identifying potential freight and passenger markets. The designated projects are also eligible to compete for future Marine Highway federal funding, including $7 million in initial funding being made available today.

“These projects will help make better use of America’s Marine Highway by reducing gridlock, improving the environment and putting skilled mariners and shipbuilders to work,” said David Matsuda, maritime administrator.

The selected projects include:

  • New England Marine Highway Expansion Project (Maine DOT): This project will expand an existing container-on-barge service operating between Newark, N.J., Boston and Portland, Maine. Service capacity and reliability will be improved by the addition of a more seaworthy vessel in the service;
  • Tenn-Tom Waterway Pilot Project (Port Itawamba, Miss.): This project involves a new container-on-barge service between the Port of Itawamba, Miss., on the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway and the Port of Mobile, Ala., to function as the inland leg of a new route between deep-draft Gulf Coast container terminals and manufacturing centers near Port Itawamba;
  • Gulf Atlantic Marine Highway Project (South Carolina State Ports Authority and Port of Galveston, Texas): This project is intended to transport containerized freight between Gulf, Mid-Atlantic and South Atlantic coastal ports on a modern fleet of U.S. flag vessels;
  • Detroit-Wayne County Ferry (Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority): This project will develop a cross-border passenger service between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, Canada, focusing on transporting commuters; and
  • Illinois-Gulf Marine Highway Initiative (Heart of Illinois Regional Port District): This initiative will examine opportunities for a Marine Highway service to support Midwest industrial production and operating between U.S. Gulf Coast seaports and Peoria, Ill., via the Mississippi and Illinois rivers.

The DOT’s Maritime Administration chose the projects and initiatives from 35 applications submitted by ports and local transportation agencies.

To date, the DOT has awarded $58 million in grants for projects to support the start-up or expansion of Marine Highways services. Today, the Maritime Administration is making available up to $7 million in additional funding for designated projects.

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