For too long, America has overlooked the economic and environmental benefits of moving freight over our waterways and through our domestic seaports.
While our roadways get more and more congested, we are sitting on vast unused transportation capacity that is ready for action. Investing in effective new ways to move goods will help us achieve outcomes whose benefits extend beyond just mobility--like stimulating growth, advancing sustainability, and reducing congestion on our roadways.
Using our waterways more effectively is one way to reach those outcomes.
Under the “America’s Marine Highway” program, the Department’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) will help identify rivers and coastal routes that could be used to carry cargo efficiently, bypassing congested roads around busy ports, reducing greenhouse gases, and creating jobs for mariners and shipbuilders.
Click on the map for an interactive tour of MARAD-designated corridors and projects
Here's how it works. Regional transportation officials can apply to have specific corridors or individual projects designated as marine highways if they meet DOT criteria. Once designated, these projects will receive preferential treatment for future federal assistance from the department or MARAD.
This new program began with a 2007 law requiring DOT to establish a short sea transportation program and designate short sea transportation projects to mitigate surface congestion. And I'm pleased that President Obama has pressed us to pursue this course in earnest.
We began earlier this year with $58 million in marine highways grants through our TIGER Recovery Act program. Later this summer, we'll add $7 million in MARAD grants. And Congress has authorized another $600 million this fiscal year to continue our TIGER program, so that will allow more good marine highways projects to compete for funding.
From Rhode Island to the Mississippi River to California, America's waterways are poised to deliver the goods. And DOT is ready to work with states, regions, ports, and shippers to help make that happen.