The U.S. Maritime Administrator weighs in on 2013 and the road ahead ...
Here at the Maritime Administration (MARAD), we continue working tirelessly to improve our marine transportation system with innovative projects across the country. As our economy rebuilds and jobs are created, we are reminded just how much the maritime industry has contributed to these growing numbers and more importantly. . . Why Maritime Matters!
It has long been a vision in our industry to move more freight on our rivers, Great Lakes, and waterways, as well as through American river, lake, and sea ports. This year it became reality when one of the first major marine highway services began on the West Sacramento-Stockton-Oakland “Green Trade Corridor.” This flagship project takes freight off the congested Interstate 580 and moves it on the San Joaquin River. It is expected to remove 180,000 trucks from the highways and save more than 7 million gallons of fuel annually. What’s more, it’s helping to move more U.S. exports to Asia, a key market essential in the expansion of our nation’s trade and commerce.
Continued growth in America’s exports coupled with the widening of the Panama Canal requires the maritime industry and shippers to prepare for the most significant change in global trading patterns in the last century.
The wider and deeper locks that open in 2015 on the Panama Canal will create new opportunities and jobs across the country as transportation officials and port authorities prepare for larger vessels to call at Gulf and East Coast ports. Phase I of MARAD’s comprehensive, multi-phase Panama Canal study was released earlier this year and will help inform stakeholders on current and future infrastructure investments.
The Obama Administration clearly understands the importance of U.S. ports as the gateways to the national freight network and has already invested more in port infrastructure than any previous Administration. Additionally, more than $150 million has been invested in America's shipyards, which support over 402,000 jobs and produce $36 billion in annual GDP.
The continued expansion of our maritime industry is critical to our competiveness in the global market. That is one of the primary reasons why we're hosting the first ever National Maritime Strategy Symposium. This meeting will gather stakeholders industry-wide to help develop the foundation for a robust national maritime strategy. It is critical that we strengthen America’s maritime industry, with a focus on building the foundation for a 21st Century economy that will carry us far into the future.
Chip Jaenichen is Acting Administrator of the Maritime Administration.