6 marine highway projects and a new Marine Highway Route could create jobs

By Jenny LescohierAugust 24, 2021

Six projects have been designated as part of an expansion of America’s Marine Highway Program (AMHP)

Six projects have been designated as part of an expansion of America’s Marine Highway Program (AMHP) which aims to encourage the use of U.S. waterways for the movement of cargo and passengers.

Through the expansion, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) is working to improve infrastructure at coastal and inland ports and the Great Lakes. The goal is to provide alternative transportation methods to land-based transport as well as designating a new international Marine Highway Route, the Maritime Executive reported.

“These new project designations will improve the movement of freight by water all around the nation, including along our coasts, on our inland waterways, and to Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands,” said Acting Maritime Administrator Lucinda Lessley. “Making better use of our inland waterways can boost America’s maritime industry and create jobs while cutting emissions and traffic congestion.”

1. M-5 Coastal Connector - Focusing on the Pacific coast and transport between Washington state and southern California, MARAD designated the M-5 Coastal Connector. Tracing one of the most historic routes along the Pacific Coast, this project will support a service transporting goods on barges between Bellingham, WA, Southern Oregon, and south to San Diego, CA. The developers of the project are promoting it to support regional cargo operations and as an alternative to reduce truck traffic along Interstate 5.

2. M-90 Transbay Freight Service Project - This is the first project in the AMHP focusing on the transportation of large-vessel modules and material-handling equipment in Northern Wisconsin in the region along Lake Michigan. The goal is to divert transport in the region around Green Bay, Sturgeon Bay, Marinette/Menominee from the highways to the waterways.

3. Port Raritan Terminal Facility Project - Another project focuses on supporting the development of the offshore wind sector and other cargo movements from the New Jersey port of Raritan to various locations including New York City. This designation will support services accommodating Roll-on/Roll-off (Ro-Ro) barges carrying wheeled containers, ferries capable of carrying trucks, Lift-on/Lift-off (Lo-Lo) barges that can be used to support offshore wind-energy turbines, and other services.

4. Missouri River Container on Barge Project - Inland, on the Missouri River, a container barge project for goods including agricultural commodities in containers seeks to expand the use of the river to transport to ocean ports along the Gulf. They believe it can help producers to reach international markets more competitively.

5. Guam Marine Transportation Enhancement Initiative (Guam) - This designation will expand and promote inbound and outbound cargo within the islands. Service providers transporting freight utilize U.S. ports in Hawaii and the West Coast before making their way through Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). The Port of Guam operates as the only commercial seaport on the island and serves the regional population of more than 225,000, including communities on the neighboring islands in the CNMI. 

6. CNMI Freight Improvement Project - The designation of the CNMI project will support the movement of containers between the Port of Guam and Commonwealth Port Authority ports of Saipan, Tinian and Rota. The CNMI is exploring the expansion of its maritime capacities for the shipping of inter-island cargo and commodities to increase frequency and reduce shipping costs. 

Since its inception, the AMHP has designated 46 Marine Highway Projects. A designation makes projects on Marine Highway Routes eligible for grants when AMHP funding is available. In May, the Department announced the availability of nearly $11 million in grant funding through the AMHP, which will be awarded to advance marine highway projects previously designated by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg.

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