U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao announced Wednesday that the Maritime Administration has awarded $4.8 million in grants to six Marine Highway projects.
The funding, provided by Marad's Marine Highway Program, will help enhance existing marine highways serving ports in Louisiana, Virginia, New York, and Connecticut, and support the development of new container-on-barge services in Kentucky and Rhode Island.
“Strengthening the country’s waterways and domestic seaports stimulates economic growth, reduces congestion and increases the efficiency of our national freight transportation system,” Chao said in a statement.
The Marine Highway Program supports the expanded use of navigable waterways to relieve landside congestion, provide new transportation options, and generate other public benefits by increasing the efficiency of the surface transportation system. The program works with public and private stakeholders to achieve these goals.
“These marine highway grants will help expand freight movement on the water and modernize our inland ports and waterways,” said Maritime Administrator Mark Buzby.
Marine highways provide new modal choices to cargo shippers, which reduces transportation costs while providing the public benefits of reduced road maintenance costs and improved safety. Expanding the use of U.S. waterways supports jobs at U.S. ports and shipyards, and marine highway services also benefit national security by providing an alternate mode of transportation and adding to our strategic sealift resources, the DOT said..
Projects receiving grant funding are:
Port of Baton Rouge and Port of New Orleans Container-on-Barge (awarded $2.5 million)
The grant will be used to purchase marine terminal and handling equipment for efficient loading and unloading of container-on-barge operations in New Orleans. The existing service, which operates on a regular schedule, is designed to relocate empty containers in Memphis, Tenn., to meet export customer demand in Baton Rouge, La. This grant will allow the service to expand to the Port of New Orleans France Road terminal and will allow northbound containers to be offloaded as far north as Memphis.
Davisville/Brooklyn/Newark Container-on-Barge Service (awarded $855,200)
Sponsored by the Quonset Development Corp., this service will run between Brooklyn, N.Y., Newark, N.J., and the Port of Davisville, R.I. The service will include a dedicated run twice a week utilizing one 800-TEU capacity deck barge and will remove approximately 83,200 containers and 15 million vehicular miles annually from the road. It will also relieve landside congestion and lower transportation costs for shippers while providing additional economic opportunities regionally.
James River Expansion Project on the M-64 (awarded $456,000)
Sponsored by the Port of Virginia, this regularly scheduled service operates three times a week between terminals in Hampton Roads and the Richmond Marine Terminal. The grant will allow the service to continue expanding by increasing freight handling capacity at the Richmond Marine Terminal, enabling it to provide a more efficient level of service.
New York Harbor Container and Trailer-on-Barge Service (awarded $298,423)
Sponsored by the New York City Economic Development Corporation, the grant will assist with funding a planning study to look at how marine highway services can be expanded throughout the Northeast region from New York Harbor to other points. Since many of the terminals at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey are reaching capacity, the study will provide the data necessary to establish the business case to support shipping container movement by barge between terminals and beyond. Services derived from this study could reduce landside congestion, provide greater market access and improve terminal capacity and efficiency.
Cross Sound Enhancement Project (awarded $503,250)
Sponsored by the Connecticut Port Authority, this grant will support the improvement of the Cross-Sound Ferry by expanding the dock and supporting infrastructure. The project will focus on maintaining and improving operational safety and efficiency. The grants funding will be utilized for shoreside infrastructure improvements and more efficient direction of vehicular traffic.
Paducah-McCracken Riverport Container-on-Barge Service (awarded $251,927)
Sponsored by the Paducah-McCracken County Riverport Authority, Paducah, Ky., the grant funding will be applied to an 18-month demonstration of container-on-barge services that would stretch across three states and three marine highways. Specifically, the funds would be utilized for leasing and/or purchase of shoreside container handling equipment.