The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) today applauded the U.S. Department of Transportation's (DOT) and the U.S. Maritime Administration's (MARAD) announcement yesterday selecting 18 corridors, eight projects and six specific initiatives eligible for funding as part of America's Marine Highways program.
"AAPA has long supported the development of a federal program to support expanded use of marine highways in the U.S. to help alleviate highway congestion and improve environmental sustainability," said Susan Monteverde, AAPA's vice president of government relations. "We were a strong advocate for Congress appropriating funds for this program, and we're very pleased to see DOT make these grant funds available for first time."
In yesterday's announcement by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, MARAD made $7 million in grants available, in which the eight projects are eligible to apply. The majority of these involve AAPA member port authorities, including 11 that are listed as directly involved.
The initial marine highways projects were chosen from 35 applications made by U.S. ports and transportation planning agencies as part of the solicitation of applications for Marine Highway Projects, published in the Federal Register on April 9.
According to the Maritime Administration, the chosen projects will receive "preferential treatment for any future federal assistance from the Department and MARAD," while the initiatives will receive "support in the form of assistance in further developing the concepts through conduct of research, market analysis and other efforts to identify the opportunities they may present."
Founded in 1912, AAPA today represents 160 of the leading seaport authorities in the United States, Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean and more than 300 sustaining and associate members, firms and individuals with an interest in seaports. As a critical link for access to the global marketplace, each year, Western Hemisphere seaports generate trillions of dollars of economic activity, support the employment of millions of people and, in 2008, imported and exported more than 7.8 billion tons of cargo, valued at $8.6 trillion, including food, clothing, medicine, fuel and building materials, as well as consumer electronics and toys. The volume of cargo shipped by water is expected to dramatically increase by 2020 and the number of passengers traveling through our seaports will continue to grow. To meet these demands, the AAPA and its members are committed to keeping seaports navigable, secure and sustainable.