MARAD expands US Highway Maritime Program

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US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “Today’s announcements are an important step in the port administration’s action plan to strengthen our supply chains, modernize port operations and fight inflation.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation Marine Administration (MARAD) today announced the designation of one new marine route, two new marine highway projects, and one project designation extension under the U.S. Maritime Motorway (AMHP).

America’s Marine Highway program supports increased use of America’s waterways to reduce landside congestion, provide new efficient transportation options, and increase the productivity of the surface transportation system.

“Investments in America’s Marine Highway program help us get more goods to the American people faster and more efficiently, supporting our supply chains even as they continue to be strained by pandemic-induced disruptions,” said US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “Today’s announcements are an important step in the port administration’s action plan to strengthen our supply chains, modernize port operations and fight inflation.”

Since its creation in 2014, the AMHP has designated 54 maritime motorway projects. A marine highway project is a planned service or expansion of an existing service on a designated marine route. A sea route is a waterway, capable of carrying cargo, located in the United States or its territories. Since 2010, 29 road sea routes have been designated

In March, the ministry announced the availability of nearly $25 million in bipartisan Infrastructure Act grants for the AMHP, the largest funding appropriation ever given to the program.

“Put simply, President Biden is leading the largest federal investment ever in modernizing our nation’s ports – and our national coastal services – and improving our supply chains and the lives of the Americans who depend on them. “said Acting Marine Administrator Lucinda Lessley. “It really is an extraordinary moment.”

The new maritime highway alignment, two new maritime highway projects and a project designation extension include:


  • M-3 Kaskaskia River (Illinois): The Kaskaskia River is the second longest river in Illinois, originating in central Illinois around Champaign, Illinois and ending at its confluence with the Mississippi River – a distance of over 300 miles. The Kaskaskia River has been used primarily to ship bulk cargo of coal, washstone, slag, grain, and scrap since it was established as a waterway; however, 40,000 to 50,000 tonnes of steel in unitized coils are also moving on this waterway and a new tenant is expected to ship up to 1.2 million tonnes of steel in coils for processing and other uses a once it has built its processing plant. The route designation will include existing freight traffic between terminals on the Kaskaskia River and the Mississippi River, which, in turn, will open up new opportunities to leverage private investment through public-private partnerships and support supply chain resilience efforts.


  • Lake Michigan M-90 Marine Highway Shortcut (Michigan and Wisconsin): The project designation will support an existing ferry service that carries both freight vehicles and passengers on Lake Michigan between Ludington, Michigan, and Manitowoc, Wisconsin. The ferry service is anchored by the SS Badger, a documented American ship and historic car ferry that is owned and operated by Interlake Marine Services. The service allows freight trucks (including oversized trucks), as well as cars, RVs, RVs, motorcycles and other vehicles to avoid traveling on the extremely busy South Highway near Chicago, Illinois. ‘Illinois. The project’s designation aligns with the administration’s focus on American jobs, including union marine jobs, and reducing carbon emissions in the economy, particularly in the transportation sector.
  • Northwest Connect: Essential Lifelines between Alaska, Hawaii and Washington (Alaska, Hawaii, and Washington): The project designation will service the M-5 sea route carrying containerized cargo to and from Alaska, Hawaii, and Washington. Shipping is the most cost-effective way to transport goods between Washington, Alaska and Hawaii. Approximately 90% of tonnage entering and leaving Alaska moves by water, and 98% of tonnage entering and leaving Hawaii moves by water. Domestic services between Alaska, Washington and Hawaii that are included in this project designation are estimated to save nearly $1.565 billion in emissions-related damages compared to what would be incurred if the same amount of cargo had to be transported by truck, in the case of Alaska, or by plane, in the case of Hawaii.


  • M-5 shore connector (Oregon): The Port of San Diego is an Initial Project Applicant for the M-5 Coastal Connector Project, which received its US Marine Highway Project designation in 2021. The initial designation was for the planned transportation service of goods on barges between Bellingham, Washington, southern Oregon and San Diego, California. The Port of San Diego has requested an extension of the project designation to the Port of Umpqua. The Port of Umpqua is an important partner in advancing this project designation by loading lumber for offloading at the Port of San Diego and receiving empty containers for use by Oregon shippers. This service will strengthen the supply chain link in multiple states.
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