U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced $4,872,000 in grants to six Marine Highway projects on August 8. The funding, provided by the Maritime Administration’s (MarAd) 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,” said Chao.
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, reducing transportation costs while providing the public benefits of reduced road maintenance costs and improved safety. Expanding the use of our 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 the nation’s strategic sealift resources.
Inland river projects receiving grant funding include the Port of Baton Rouge and Port of New Orleans’ container-on-barge service, which were awarded $2,507,200; and the Paducah-McCracken County Riverport’s container-on-barge service, which was awarded $251,927.
The grant awarded to the Port of Baton Rouge and the Port of New Orleans, both in Louisiana, 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, reliable schedule, is designed to relocate empty containers in Memphis, Tenn., to meet export customer demand in Baton Rouge. This grant will allow the service to expand to the New Orleans France Road terminal and will allow northbound containers to be offloaded as far north as Memphis.
Paducah-McCracken County Riverport Authority’s grant funding will be applied to an 18-month demonstration of container-on-barge services at the port 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.