Water cargo projects named

Soon after announcing a program to move more cargo on water, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood identified marine highway corridors and other projects eligible for federal funding.

In 2007, Congress mandated a program to better use waterways to decrease highway congestion and emissions. On Aug. 11, LaHood announced selection of an initial eight projects and six initiatives along the corridors under the America’s Marine Highway Program

The corridors are along the West, East and Gulf Coasts, the Great Lakes and many inland waterways. The Maritime Administration will assist projects in developing marine transportation services and identifying potential markets. The designated projects are also eligible to compete for future program federal funding, including the $7 million in initial funding just made available.

Selected projects include:
•        The New England Marine Highway Expansion Project to expand container-on-barge service between Newark, N.J., Boston and Portland, Maine.
•        The Cross Gulf Container Expansion between Ports of Manatee, Fla. and Brownsville, Texas, which will expand container-on-barge operation across the Gulf.
•        The Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Pilot Project, which will have a new container-on-barge service between the Itawamba, Miss., port on the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway and the Mobile, Ala. port.
•        The Gulf Atlantic Marine Highway Project, intended to transport containerized freight between Gulf, Mid-Atlantic and South Atlantic coastal ports on a modern fleet of U.S. flag vessels.
•        The Trans-Hudson Rail Service to expand the quality and capacity of an ongoing cross-harbor rail float service between the Greenville Rail Terminal in Jersey City, N.J., and Brooklyn, N.Y.
•        The James River Container Expansion, which will expand an existing container-on-barge service between the Hampton Roads and Richmond, Va. by increasing service frequency and starting an inter-terminal barge service in Hampton Roads.

In addition to the marine highway project designations, LaHood also identified six initiatives eligible to apply for federal funding for further development:
•        The Hudson River Food Corridor Initiative to evaluate feasibility of an alternate transportation of produce via water from North-Central New York near the Hudson River and Long Island to the New York-Newark metropolitan area.
•        The New Jersey Marine Highway Initiative to assess feasibility of developing a network of Marine Highway services within New Jersey and between New Jersey and Eastern ports.
•        The East Coast Marine Highway Initiative proposes to develop a Marine Highway service utilizing existing and new-build U.S. flag vessels to transport international containers and trailers along the I-95 Corridor, including New Bedford, Mass., Baltimore and Canaveral, Fla.
•        The West Coast Hub-Feeder Initiative, which will examine the feasibility of an intermodal distribution network served by a Marine Highway service along the West Coast.
•        The Golden State Marine Highway Initiative, an effort by four California ports to improve freight movement by developing service linking California’s ports into a 1,100-mile Marine Highway along the West Coast.
•        The Illinois-Gulf Marine Highway Initiative, which will examine opportunities for a Marine Highway service to support Midwest industrial production between U.S. Gulf Coast seaports and Peoria, Ill., via the Mississippi and Illinois rivers.

So far, the DOT has awarded $58 million in grants for projects to support Marine Highways services. More information is available at www.marad.dot.gov.