The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) announced the immediate designation of four new Marine Highway Projects as part of the America’s Marine Highway Program (AMHP) located in North Carolina, Alaska and Puerto Rico. These projects now have access to record levels of funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help address supply chain challenges.
A Marine Highway Project is a planned service, or expansion of an existing service, on a designated Marine Highway Route. Since its inception in 2010, the AMHP has designated 58 marine highway projects. Once a marine highway project is designated by the Secretary as part of the AMHP, it is eligible to apply for an AMHP grant award.
The AMHP supports the increased use of the nation’s navigable waterways to relieve supply chain congestion, provide new and efficient transportation options, and increase the productivity of the movement of goods.
In March, the Department announced the availability of nearly $25 million in grant funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for the AMHP. The Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Appropriations Act made an additional $14.8 million available for the AMHP. This is the most funding for Marine Highways in American history.
The four new Marine Highway Projects include:
- Riverbulk Steel Shuttle (North Carolina): The Project Designation will support an existing barge service that transports steel plates along the existing M-95, M-64 and M-495 Marine Highway corridors. The destination ports within this service can handle barge cargo and significantly reduce the number of trucks on the road as well as reduce shipping costs for cargo owners that will use this service. The applicant is expecting to eventually seek grant funds to support the acquisition of a Buy American-compliant barge.
- Yakutat, Alaska’s Freight Expansion Service (Alaska): The Project Designation will serve the City and Borough of Yakutat, Alaska, through the expansion of an existing freight service on the M-5 (AK) Marine Highway Route. The overall operation of the proposed project includes fishing vessels, freighters carrying vehicles, heavy equipment, building supplies, passengers, food and supplies, pleasure vessels, and commercial vessels. The project will include the eventual extension of the dock to handle larger vessels and a greater quantity of ships.
- Unalaska Express (Alaska): The Project Designation will support the growth of the CMA CGM barge terminal currently operating in the City of Unalaska’s International Port of Dutch Harbor that utilizes the Alaska M-5 route to connect Kodiak, Seward and Valdez. This project will result in a 20 percent increase in cargo volumes and will provide a safer working place for Alaskan workers.
- Puerto Rico Maritime Transportation Services Project (Puerto Rico): The Project Designation will establish reliable routes among Ceiba, Culebra, and Vieques that will allow island residents access to the essential services located primarily on the main island, such as food, groceries, furniture, construction services, materials, and equipment. This designation reinforces the importance of maritime transportation as the economic lifeline for Culebra and Vieques.