The Department of Transportation unveiled eight marine highway project corridors around the country that it will help through $7 million in current grant funding plus future aid, and listed six major initiative concepts that will be eligible for federal assistance in targeted corridors.
The Marine Highway Program under the DOT’s Maritime Administration is aimed at using more waterway traffic of both passenger and freight services to bypass congested road or rail networks, such as in harbor areas or along heavily used coastal routes. For freight, it envisions hauling more intermodal containers and even some types of railcars on barges.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood formally launched the program April 7 during an industry conference sponsored by The Journal of Commerce, and opened an application process for projects that the DOT would help develop as targeted marine highways. The department had also allocated $58 million of its discretionary economic stimulus funds for projects that come under the marine highway heading.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the DOT’s Maritime Administration selected its aid recipients list out of 35 applications from ports and local transportation agencies. The selected corridors are spread along the U.S. West, East and Gulf coasts, the Great Lakes and some inland waterways.
“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 Secretary LaHood. “There is no better time for us to improve the use of our rivers and coasts for transportation.”
Having made the cut, the project sponsors will work with Marad to identify potential freight and passenger markets, and finish applications by Aug. 27 for shares of the $7 million grant pool. Marad Administrator David Matsuda said “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.”
DOT said it will target the following projects:
--The New England Marine Highway, to expand an existing container-on-barge service between Newark, N.J., Boston and Portland, Maine.
--Connecticut’s Cross Sound Enhancements, to improve three passenger/ vehicle ferries operating between New London, Conn., and Orient Point in Long Island, N.Y.
--Cross Gulf Container Operation, between the ports of Manatee, Fla., and Brownsville, Texas, to increase the frequency and capacity of a current container-on-barge operation across the Gulf of Mexico.
--Tenn-Tom, a new container-on-barge service between the Port of Itawamba, Miss, on the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway and the Port of Mobile, Ala., as the inland leg of a new route between deep-draft Gulf Coast container terminals and manufacturing centers near Port Itawamba.
--Gulf-Atlantic, a project sponsored by South Carolina’s State Ports Authority and the Port of Galveston, Texas, would move containerized freight between Gulf, Mid-Atlantic and South Atlantic coastal ports on a modern fleet of U.S. flag vessels.
-- James River, under the Virginia Port Authority, will expand a container-on-barge service between the Hampton Roads coastal area of Virginia and Richmond, by increasing frequency and starting a new inter-terminal barge service in Hampton Roads.
-- Trans-Hudson Rail Service, aims to boosted the quality and capacity of a cross-harbor rail float service between the Greenville Rail Terminal in Jersey City, N.J., and Brooklyn, N.Y.
--Detroit-Wayne County, will develop a cross-border passenger service between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, focusing on commuters in what is a heavily used road network for trucks and passenger cars.
LaHood said the six regional initiatives that the DOT can help include one to move food products from upstate New York along the Hudson River, an Atlantic ports service anchored in New Jersey and another hitting certain ports from Florida to Massachusetts. There is a West Coast-area intermodal waterway service, and another targeting freight between certain ports in California. Another is an Illinois-Gulf initiative to support Midwest industrial production use of the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers to connect with Gulf Coast seaports.
-- Contact John D. Boyd at email@example.com.