LaHood: America’s waterways, poised to deliver the goods

The U.S. Department of Transportation has officialy announced launch of the marine highway program, a new initiative that aims to take advantage of the economic and environmental benefits of moving freight over U.S. waterways and domestic seaports.  Secretary Ray Lahood explains on his official blog, Fast Lane, how America’s waterways are already “poised to deliver the goods”:

Under the “America’s Marine Highway” program, the Department’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) will help identify rivers and coastal routes that could be used to carry cargo efficiently, bypassing congested roads around busy ports, reducing greenhouse gases, and creating jobs for mariners and shipbuilders.

Here’s how it works. Regional transportation officials can apply to have specific corridors or individual projects designated as marine highways if they meet DOT criteria. Once designated, these projects will receive preferential treatment for future federal assistance from the department or MARAD.

This new program began with a 2007 law requiring DOT to establish a short sea transportation program and designate short sea transportation projects to mitigate surface congestion. And I’m pleased that President Obama has pressed us to pursue this course in earnest.

We began earlier this year with $58 million in marine highways grants through our TIGER Recovery Act program. Later this summer, we’ll add $7 million in MARAD grants. And Congress has authorized another $600 million this fiscal year to continue our TIGER program, so that will allow more good marine highways projects to compete for funding.

Be sure to check out:

  • DoT’s Press Release announcing America’s Marine Highways program
  • MARAD’s Marine Highways Map (Shown above)