The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) to reduce congestion on the nation’s roads by encouraging freight to be carried by ships. The measure would create a grant program for America’s Marine Highways to encourage shipping by sea or inland waterway and establish a new program to modernize port facilities to make efficiently transport freight. The bill would also establish a Port Infrastructure Development Program to improve the capabilities of port facilities to move freight.
“The strength of our freight transportation system is being threatened by our overwhelmed roads and bridges – and the simple, smart solution is to ship more of America’s goods by sea,” said Sen. Lautenberg. “Shipping by barge reduces congestion on roads, cuts emissions and energy consumption, and improves safety.”
Sen. Lautenberg’s bill, the Maritime Administration Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2010, would create a grant program to establish America’sMarine Highway as an extension of the surface transportation system. A single sea vessel can take more than 450 trucks off the nation’s roads. The typical barge or ship can move one ton of cargo 576 miles on one gallon of fuel, whereas a truck would move that same cargo only 155 miles. America’s sea ports are the critical link between all modes of transportation and the ability to move freight throughout the country, as ships carry more than 95 percent of the nation's non-North American trade by weight and 75 percent by value. Approximately three-quarters of international shipments to and from the United States, measured in weight, arrive or depart by ship.