On August 11, 2010, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood identified 18 marine corridors, eight projects, and six initiatives for further development as part of “America’s Marine Highway Program.” In addition, the Maritime Administration made available $7m for which these projects will be able to compete through a Notice of Funding Availability.
The Marine Highway Program was fully implemented in April 2010 through publication of a Final Rule in the Federal Register. The Secretary’s designations were made pursuant to the Final Rule, as required by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.
Marine Highway Corridors: These all-water routes consist of 11 Corridors, four Connectors and three Crossings that can serve as extensions of the surface transportation system. These corridors identify routes where water transportation presents an opportunity to offer relief to landside corridors that suffer from traffic congestion, excessive air emissions or other environmental concerns and other challenges. Corridors are generally longer, multi-state routes whereas Connectors represent shorter routes that serve as feeders to the larger Corridors. Crossings are short routes that transit harbors or waterways and offer alternatives to much longer or less convenient land routes between points. By designating these Marine Highway Corridors, Connectors and Crossings, Secretary LaHood is taking the first step to focus public and private efforts to use the waterways to relieve landside congestion and attain other benefits that waterborne transportation can offer in the form of reduced greenhouse gas emissions, energy savings and increased system resiliency.
Marine Highway Projects: The Secretary has also selected eight Marine Highway Projects for designation under the program. These projects represent new or expanded Marine Highway Services that offer promise of public benefit and long-term sustainability without future Federal operational support. These projects will receive preferential treatment for any future federal assistance from the Department and MARAD. The projects will help start new businesses or expand existing ones to move more freight or passengers along America’s coastlines and waterways. The services have the potential to reduce air pollution and traffic congestion along surface corridors as well as provide jobs for skilled mariners and shipbuilders. The projects were selected from among 35 applications from ports and local transportation planning agencies received by the Department’s Maritime Administration (MARAD).
Marine Highway Grants: Sponsors of Marine Highway Projects are eligible to compete for a share of up to $7m in Marine Highway Grants.
Marine Highway Initiatives: In addition to Projects, the Secretary has selected six applications that, while not developed to the point of proposing specific services and routes required of Project designation, they offer promise of potential in the future. While not eligible to compete for upcoming Marine Highway Grants, these “Marine Highway Initiatives” will receive support from the Department of Transportation 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.