To win the future, America must invest in the multi-modal transportation system that makes our livelihoods possible. Whether its roadways, railways, or runways, how effectively we move goods and people determines how effectively our economy thrives.
And when oil prices rise dramatically and greenhouse gases threaten our environment, the link between transportation and economic strength only grows tighter.
On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to speak about an increasingly crucial part of our transportation network--America's marine highways--at the North American Marine Highways and Logistics Conference.
America's marine highways will shift some of our nation's cargo traffic--particularly in areas where there are known bottlenecks--from roadways to waterways. Since we announced our initiative a year ago, DOT's Maritime Administration (MARAD) has designated 18 marine highway corridors and awarded $215 million in TIGER grants to marine highway and port projects.
These are essential arteries of commerce that will bypass congested roads around busy ports, reduce greenhouse gases, and create jobs for our skilled mariners and shipbuilders across the country.
In addition to transporting goods more quickly, easily, and efficiently, our marine highway system will also save a valuable resource: fuel.
Last week, President Obama set the goal of cutting America’s energy imports by one-third. And he proposed that we meet this objective, in part, by reducing our transportation system’s enormous demand for oil.
Marine highways are one crucial ingredient in the President's recipe for energy independence. They’ll help us send fewer of our hard-earned dollars overseas in a tough fiscal time. They’ll decrease our emission of the carbon pollution that threatens our environment. And they’ll spur economic development and support economic expansion.
That’s why I was so pleased to send America’s marine highway plan to Congress on Tuesday. It details how marine highways fit within our larger system for moving goods. It reflects the best ideas of the maritime industry as a whole. And it offers a roadmap to a smarter, brighter future.
When we finish America’s fully-integrated, national marine highway system, our legacy will be more than routes on water. It will be a country less dependent on foreign oil. It will be a 21st century way to move people and goods. And it will be a future that America is prepared to win.