The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (Marad) announced this week the designation of nine Marine Highway projects and a Marine Highway route that will benefit Connecticut, Florida, Michigan, New York, Oregon, Texas, Virginia, Washington state and American Samoa. Marine highways are navigable waterways that can be used as alternate options to traditional shipping methods.
“The designation of marine highways by Congress will help move cargo and people to help grow the economy and shift freight off of congested highways,” Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao said in a statement announcing the designations.
The America’s Marine Highway Program (AMHP) authorizes the designation of Marine Highway Routes and Marine Highway Projects. A Marine Highway Project is a planned service, or expansion of an existing service, on a designated Marine Highway Route. Designation makes projects and highway routes eligible to apply for federal funding. Congress appropriated $7 million for AMHP in fiscal 2019.
“Marine highways are an efficient and cost-effective option for moving freight and passengers in America,” said Maritime Administrator Mark H. Buzby.
The new designations and route include the following:
- Bridgeport to Port Jefferson Ferry Service: The Bridgeport to Port Jefferson ferry service currently removes over 440,000 passenger vehicles and nearly 9,000 trucks from the road annually and relieves landside congestion on Long Island, the bridge crossings and along the I-95 corridor in New York and Connecticut. The ferry service expansion includes the development of a new state-of-the-art ferry terminal (Barnum Landing) for the Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Steamboat Company in Bridgeport, Conn.
- Port of NY to CT Ports Trailer on Barge: By connecting Brooklyn, N.Y., Newark, N.J., Bridgeport, Conn. and other New England ports along the existing M-95 Marine Highway, this barge service is designed to reduce congestion in the NY/NJ port area and on the highways, bridges, and tunnels that connect to Interstate 95 into New England.
- M-95 Fernandina Beach to Charleston Barge Service: A new barge service will help the Port of Fernandina in Nassau County, the northernmost county on the Atlantic coast in Florida, service all coastal seaports on the Atlantic, including Charleston, S.C., and contribute to the reduction of truck traffic on I-95.
- Port of Oswego Great Lakes Container Service: The designation will support the New York port’s goal of expanding its reach into national containerized cargo movement, which should help to reduce on-road truck trips and ease congestion at two international border crossings (Buffalo and Detroit/Windsor).
- Port of Morrow Barge Service Extension: The expansion of existing service will support the rural economy and increase the economic competitiveness of the region by reducing transportation costs and rail and highway congestion through new opportunities for barge shipping to and from the Oregon port along M-84.
- Wallops Island M95 Intermodal Barge Service: The creation of a new barge service will expand short sea shipping near Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. This project will grow existing site capabilities at Wallops Island, enhance STEM research opportunities, and spur high-tech/high-paying jobs in a predominately rural area.
- Seattle – Bainbridge Island Ferry Service: This service offers a faster, more reliable, and safer alternative to the circuitous road connections where freight and passenger vehicles would otherwise travel along Interstate 5 (I-5) and State Route (SR) 16, as well as SR 3 and SR 305 in Washington state.
- Houston Gateway & Gulf Container-On-Barge Central Node: As proposed, the project would reduce landside congestion through the creation of dedicated centralized container-on-barge facilities serving the M-69, M-146, and M-10 marine highways.
- American Samoa Inter-Island Ferry Service: As a newly designated Marine Highway route and designated project, the Port of Pago Pago will enhance both intra-island and inter-island transportation to the outer islands, including the movement of freight, to ultimately promote the development and growth of these relatively isolated areas.