January 25, 2020
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The U.S. Maritime Administration is providing $6.79 million worth of grants to marine highway projects in New York, Louisiana, and Virginia.

[Above photo by U.S. Department of Agriculture.]

“America’s Marine Highway Program is dedicated to expanding freight movement on the water and this round of grant funding will go a long way towards ensuring that our nation’s waterways continue to be utilized as effectively as possible,” said Rear Admiral Mark “Buz” Buzby USN (Ret.), head of MARAD, in a statement on April 18.

Rear Admiral Mark “Buz” Buzby USN (Ret.)

MARAD’s Marine Highway Program works with both public and private stakeholders to increase the use of domestic navigable waterways to haul freight as a way to relieve “landside traffic congestion,” provide new and efficient transportation options, and increase the productivity of the surface transportation system.

Buzby noted in remarks given at the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials 2019 Washington Briefing in February that rising freight demand has the “real ability” to create “significant bottlenecks,” tying up the nation’s road and rail system. By extension, that means other surface transportation avenues for cargo should be “encouraged.”

“We can relieve stress on highways and railways by using the ‘blue highway’ inland waterway system,” he pointed out.

The three marine highway projects receiving the $6.79 million in MARAD grant money are:

  • The Harbor Harvest Long Island Sound Service: sponsored by the Connecticut Port Authority and awarded $1.81 million, this project aims to provide a “viable source” of waterborne transportation for 3,000 Connecticut and Long Island farmers and manufacturers by connecting neighboring communities in addition to creating produce markets in both Connecticut and New York.
  • The Baton Rouge–New Orleans Shuttle on the M-55: sponsored by the Port of New Orleans and awarded $3.15 million, this project aims to expand the Ports of Baton Rouge and New Orleans Container on Barge Service, allowing them to purchase purpose-built vessels that will increase the viability of the service, especially for chemical industry shipments.
  • The James River Expansion Project on the M-64: sponsored by James River Barge Lines and awarded $1.82 million, this grant will fund construction of a third barge to expand the existing service in order to accommodate estimated 27 percent year-over-year 27 freight growth on the M-64 corridor.

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