Washington Waves
Washington Waves

Two New Marine Highway Routes Designated

Washington, D.C.—Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced the designation of two new Marine Highway routes as part of the U.S. Marine Highway Program (MHP).

Designated by the Maritime Administration, the M-79 route extends the reach of the Ohio River system by nearly 250 miles and is expected to boost local economies in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Its co-sponsors were the Port of Pittsburgh and the Morgantown Monongalia Metropolitan Planning Organization.

The expansive M-11 route in Alaska will add more than 6,500 miles to the marine highway system with the inclusion of the coastal and river ports in southwestern and northern Alaska from the Aleutian Islands to the Canadian border.

Its designation was sponsored by the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities.

Eligible applicants on the two routes now can apply for future MHP grants.

“America’s marine highways are vital links in our supply chains, helping to move goods quickly, cleanly and efficiently,” Buttigieg said.

“By expanding our marine highway system, we can strengthen our supply chains, improve port operations and help keep goods affordable for American families.”

According to his agency, the MHP supports the increased use of America’s navigable waterways to relieve landside congestion, provide new and efficient transportation options and increase the productivity of the surface transportation system.

“Since its inception in 2010, the MHP has designated 31 marine highway routes,” Maritime Administrator Ann Phillips said.

Critical Habitat Designation

A Biden administration proposal to designate a critical habitat for the Rice’s whale has sparked a request from The American Waterways Operators (AWO).

“AWO is working with stakeholder partners on this important navigation safety issue, and we encourage members to send their feedback on the proposal to Adila Fathallah (afathallah@americanwaterways.com),” the AWO stated in its newsletter.

“The proposal acknowledges that following the designation of a critical habitat, NOAA will need to establish special management considerations or protections, which could include requirements impacting commercial shipping.”

AWO also cited the September 22 deadline for public comments on the proposed rule issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).

According to the July 24 Federal Register, the proposal listed an area in the Gulf of Mexico for the designation.

Virtual hearings have been scheduled for August 24 and August 30 with a possible third hearing on September 7, depending on written requests received.

Comments identified by NOAA-NMFS-2023-0028 may be submitted via www.regulations.gov or by mail to Assistant Regional Administrator, Protected Resources Division, NMFS, Southeast Regional Office, 263 13th Ave. South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. For additional information, contact Grant Baysinger at 727-551-5790.

Disadvantaged Communities

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has extended the deadline to submit proposals on commercial navigation and other projects in economically disadvantaged communities at 100 percent federal cost.

Under a pilot program included in the Water Resources Development Act of 2020, the agency is authorized to select up to 20 projects.

Written proposals now must be submitted by October 20.

They may be submitted by mail to HQ, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, ATTN: Ms. Amy Babey, 441 G St. NW, Washington, DC 20314 or email at wrda20cap165a@usace.army.mil with “Section 165 Project Proposal” in the subject line.

For commercial navigation projects, the proposal must describe vessel traffic, existing facilities and the navigation problem to be addressed.

Further guidance can be obtained at www.usace.army.mil/Missions/Civil-Works/Project-Planning/Legislative-Links/wrda_2020/.

For additional information, contact Amy Babey at 502-645-7199 or wrda20cap165a@usace.army.mil.

Duplicate MMCs

Duplicate merchant mariner credentials (MMCs) may be issued free of charge to mariners whose credentials were lost or destroyed because of wildfires in Hawaii, the National Maritime Center (NMC) stated.

To obtain an expedited replacement credential, the NMC said affected mariners should provide a statement of loss via fax at 304-433-3412 or e-mail at IASKNMC@uscg.mil.

The statement should contain the mariner’s full name, date of birth, mariner’s reference number (MRN) or last four digits of the Social Security number if MRN is unknown), mailing address, phone number and/or an e-mail address and description of circumstances surrounding the loss/destruction of the credential.

Alternatively, the NMC added, mariners may submit form CG-719B, Application for Merchant Mariner Credential, along with the requested information, to a Regional Exam Center.

For additional information, contact the NMC via its Online Chat or Ticketing System, e-mail at IASKNMC@uscg.mil or phone at 888-IASKNMC (427-5662).

Lakes Pilotage Rates

The Coast Guard is proposing new Great Lakes pilotage rates for the 2024 shipping season, resulting in an estimated 5 percent increase in operating costs over the 2023 season.

Comments on the proposed rule must be received by September 15.

Identified by docket number USCG-2023-0438, they may be submitted at www.regulations.gov.

For additional information, contact Brian Rogers at 410-360-9260 or Brian.Rogers@uscg.mil.