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U.S. designates new marine highway projects

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Marine Highway Routes are navigable waterways that provide better options for moving freight and passengers, and a recent move by MARAD, the Maritime Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation, means more such passageways are in the works.

The department has designated nine Marine Highway Projects in eight U.S. states – Florida, New York, Connecticut, Washington, Oregon, Michigan, Virginia and Texas – and American Samoa. A Marine Highway Project is a planned service, or the expansion of an existing service, on a designated Marine Highway Route. 

“The designation of marine highways by Congress will help move cargo and people to help grow the economy and shift freight off of congested highways,” stated Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

Official designation makes the projects and routes eligible for federal funding. According to MARAD, the U.S. Congress appropriated $7 million for America’s Marine Highway Program in 2019.

The nine designated Marine Highway Projects are:

  • Bridgeport to Port Jefferson Ferry Service. The Bridgeport to Port Jefferson ferry service removes over 440,000 passenger vehicles and nearly 9,000 trucks from the road annually and relieves traffic congestion on Long Island, the bridge crossings and along the I-95 corridor in New York and Connecticut. The Ferry Service Expansion includes the development of a new ferry terminal (Barnum Landing) for the Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Steamboat Company in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
  • Port of NY to CT Ports Trailer on Barge. By connecting Brooklyn, New York; Newark, New Jersey; Bridgeport, Connecticut; and other New England ports along the existing M-95 Marine Highway, this barge service is designed to reduce congestion in the New York-New Jersey port area and on the highways, bridges and tunnels that connect to I-95 into New England.
  • M-95 Fernandina Beach to Charleston Barge Service. A new barge service will help the Port of Fernandina in Nassau County, Florida’s northernmost county on the Atlantic coast; service all coastal seaports on the Atlantic, including Charleston, South Carolina; and contribute to the reduction of truck traffic on I-95.
  • Port of Oswego Great Lakes Container Service. The designation will support the port’s goal of expanding its reach into national containerized cargo movement, which should help to reduce on-road truck trips and ease congestion at two international border crossings (Buffalo and Detroit-Windsor).
  • Port of Morrow Barge Service Extension. The expansion of existing service will increase the economic competitiveness of the region by reducing rail and highway congestion through new opportunities for barge shipping to and from the port along M-84.
  • Wallops Island M-95 Intermodal Barge Service. The creation of a new barge service will expand short sea shipping near Virginia’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on the eastern shore of Virginia.
  • Seattle-Bainbridge Island Ferry Service. This service offers a faster alternative to the road connections where freight and passenger vehicles would otherwise travel along I-5 and SR 16, as well as SR 3 and SR 305.
  • Houston Gateway & Gulf Container-On-Barge Central Node. As proposed, the project would create dedicated centralized Container on Barge facilities serving the M-69, M-146 and M-10 marine highways.
  • American Samoa Inter-island Ferry Service. As a newly designated Marine Highway route and designated project, the Port of Pago Pago will enhance both intra-island and inter-island transportation to the outer islands, including the movement of freight.
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