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The designated Marine Highway Route, known as the I-64 Express barge service, in Virginia. Photo: Port of Virginia

The designated Marine Highway Route, known as the I-64 Express barge service, in Virginia. Photo: Port of Virginia

MARAD Awards $12 Million in Grants to Marine Highways

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 1932
September 21, 2023

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) has awarded nearly $12 million in grants to eight marine highway projects across the country.

The funding, provided under the United States Marine Highway Program (USMHP), will improve the movement of goods along our navigable waterways and expand existing waterborne freight services in Alaska, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin.

“The U.S. Marine Highway Program is focused on increasing waterborne transport through the nation’s navigable waterways,” said Maritime Administrator Ann Phillips. “By integrating our internal waterways into the nation’s surface transportation system, we will be utilizing a more efficient, effective, and sustainable option for moving passengers and large freight.”

Of the nearly $12 million in awards being announced today, $5.8 million supports projects within Historically Disadvantaged Communities. This exceeds the commitment of the Biden Administration’s Justice40 Initiative, which set a goal of flowing 40 percent of the overall benefits of certain Federal investments to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized, underserved, and overburdened by pollution.

MARAD announced the availability of $12,423,000 Fiscal Year 2023 funds back in March. The amount is less than the $39 million awarded in 2022, which included $25 million made available in President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

United States Marine Highway grants can be used to purchase low-emission U.S.-manufactured equipment with the condition that all iron, steel, manufactured products, and construction materials are produced in the United States. Funds can also be used to purchase intermodal equipment that can help alleviate supply chain bottlenecks.

“Our country has always relied on American waterways to get vital goods where they need to go,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “Today, we are delivering new funding for eight marine highway projects across the country that will strengthen our supply chains, improve our ports, and help keep goods affordable for American families.”

Projects receiving funding:


The Matanuska-Susitna Borough was awarded $944,804 for the acquisition of a 75-ton rough terrain crane for loading and unloading cargo, freight, fuel, equipment, and other goods at Port MacKenzie.


The Kaskaskia Regional Port District was awarded $1,008,750 for the acquisition of eight shuttle cars, which will handle 2.25 million tons of new coiled steel and move existing coiled steel located at the terminal to a new laydown yard.


The Ports of Indiana was awarded $2,250,000 for the acquisition of a new crane for the Ports of Indiana-Mount Vernon. The crane more than doubles the port’s lift capacity from less than 60 tons to 120 tons and allows the Port to supply heavy lift transload between barge, rail, and truck.


The Morgan City Harbor and Terminal District was awarded $3,320,000 for the procurement, delivery, and assembly of cargo transloading equipment, specifically a 220-ton crane and a 25-ton forklift.


The Port of Beaumont Navigation District of Jefferson County, Texas was awarded $2,041,925 for the acquisition of two reach stackers, which will be used as the primary equipment for cargo movements associated with the Port of Beaumont Container on Barge Service from the Port of Beaumont to Port Houston.


The Port of Bellingham was awarded $1,021,747 for the purchase of a portable barge ramp for the Bellingham Shipping Terminal (BST) to support the movement of lumber, refrigerated and non-refrigerated containers, rolling stock, and household goods between the Port of Bellingham and Port of San Diego as part of the United States Marine Highway Route M-5.

SeaTac Marine Services, LLC (STMS) was awarded $811,965 for the acquisition of a Tier 4 forklift for Alaska-bound cargo.


Lake Michigan Carferry, Inc. was awarded $600,000 to support a zero-emission/carbon capture feasibility analysis to convert the SS Badger from a coal-fired steamship to a zero-emission ferry vessel.

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