The Department of Transportation is launching a formal marine highway program, announcing plans to fund the marine highway system through dedicated grants.
A $7 million grant program will be ready to disburse funds for marine highway projects this summer, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said today.
It's the latest step in a plan to strengthen the U.S. maritime economy, LaHood said at the North American Marine Highways and Logistics Conference in Baltimore, Md.
"This approach reflects our commitment to developing the vast unused capacity on our nation's waterways," LaHood said at The Journal of Commerce conference.
"Moving goods on the water has many advantages," LaHood said. "It's good for the environment. It can help reduce gridlock by getting trucks off our busy highways."
Information on the competitive grant program for marine highway projects will be available on the U.S. Maritime Administration's Web site, he said.
The grants are part of a broader effort at DOT to bolster inland waterways and U.S. ports, the secretary said, pointing to $120 million of stimulus spending on port projects.
"This includes $58 million directly invested in marine highway projects ranging from Rhode Island to the Mississippi River to California," said LaHood.
Congress approved a second round of TIGER grants worth $600 million this year, "so we expect to see more good marine highway grant proposals in the months ahead," he said.
In addition, the White House plans to establish a $4 billion National Infrastructure Fund to support transportation projects of regional and national significance.
"This will open the door to new, merit-based financing opportunities for a wide range of projects - including port projects that will strengthen our marine highways."
Contact William B. Cassidy at email@example.com.