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  November 4th, 2016 | Written by

MARAD Awards $4.85 Million for Marine Highway Projects

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  • MARAD grants take advantage of the economic and environmental benefits of U.S. coastal and inland waterways.
  • The goal of the Marine Highway Program is to expand the use of U.S. navigable waterways.
  • Container-on-barge projects supported by MARAD grans in three U.S. ports.

Nearly $5 million in grants to six Marine Highway projects along the waterways of 17 states and the District of Columbia were announced last week.

The grants will help expand existing marine highway operations across New York Harbor, along the Mississippi River between New Orleans, La., Baton Rouge, La., and Memphis, Tenn., and on the East coast between Richmond and Hampton Roads in Virginia. Funding is also provided to support a demonstration project between St. Louis, Missouri, and Chicago, Illinois, as well as planning efforts to determine the feasibility of commuter ferry services between Virginia and the District of Columbia, and a container-on-barge service along the Mississippi River between New Orleans, Minneapolis, and Chicago.

“These grants will help us take advantage of the economic and environmental benefits of one of America’s most crucial transportation assets—our coastal and inland waterways,” said United States Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

The goal of the Maritime Administration’s Marine Highway Program is to expand the use of U.S. navigable waterways to relieve landside congestion, reduce air emissions, and generate other public benefits by increasing the efficiency of the surface transportation system.

“It is essential that we invest in integrated, multi-modal transportation systems that support the efficient movement of freight and people throughout this country,” said Maritime Administrator Paul “Chip” Jaenichen. “Our nation’s extensive network of waterways and domestic seaports provide an opportunity to help stimulate economic growth while reducing congestion on our national freight transportation system.”

The projects receiving grant funding include the Port of Baton Rouge and Port of New Orleans container-on-barge program, awarded $1,758,595. The regularly-scheduled container-on-barge service supports exports moving from the Baton Rouge area to the Port of New Orleans, where the containers are loaded onto container vessels. The new service is designed to collect empty containers in Memphis, Tennessee, and transport them to Baton Rouge to meet customer demand for chemical industry exports. The service offers a waterway alternative to reposition empty equipment that would otherwise move via truck or rail. The operation will start with five barges per week and could potentially eliminate about 12,500 truck trips each year.

Sponsored by America’s Central Port in Granite City, Ill., the Illinois Container on Barge Shuttle, awarded $713,000, is an 18-month demonstration project to provide shuttle service for agricultural customers moving containerized exports between southern and northern Illinois to access the Union Pacific and BNSF rail ramps. The shuttle service will operate on the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers between Channahon and Granite City, Ill., with an option to extend container-on-barge service to the Gulf of Mexico ports in concert with related Marine Highway Designation.

Sponsored by the Port of Virginia, the 64 Express is an existing container-on-barge service that operates along the James River between Hampton Roads and Richmond, Virginia. The grant of $713,000 will expand the service to include moving refrigerated and frozen products on the barge.

The New York Harbor Container and Trailer on Barge is an existing service that operates between Red Hook Container Terminal in Brooklyn, New York, to Newark, New Jersey. The grant will be used to purchase infrastructure that will support improved barge operations and the creation of a crane operator training center that will improve both safety and container throughput.