The U.S. Department of Transportation on Monday, Sept. 20, announced $7 million is being awarded to the Mississippi Department of Transportation, the Virginia Port Authority and the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Development Authority to support the transportation of marine cargo between U.S. ports. The announcement comes five weeks after unveiling the America’s Marine Highway program, a new initiative to move more cargo on U.S. waterways.
The money will help expand an existing marine highway operation in the Gulf of Mexico between Texas and Florida and one on the East Coast between Richmond and Hampton Roads in Virginia. The money also will help start a new all-water service on the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway between Itawamba, Miss., and the Port of Mobile, Ala.
“These projects demonstrate how water transportation can help solve some of our toughest transportation challenges,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says. “Transporting goods by water will let us reduce congestion and greenhouse gas emissions.”
“This is a key opportunity to demonstrate the benefits and viability of moving freight on the water,” says David T. Matsuda, maritime administrator. “These grants will help a long overlooked means of transporting goods finally grow.”
Projects receiving grant funding are:
• The Cross Gulf Container Expansion Project (Sponsored by: The Mississippi Department of Transportation). The Cross Gulf Container Expansion Project between Brownsville, Texas and Manatee, Fla., along Marine Highway Corridor 10 is awarded $3.34 million to help modify two barges and purchase equipment that will result in diesel fuel savings of nearly 70,000 gallons per one-way trip, 2.7 million gallons each year and save 18 million miles annually.
• The James River Container Expansion Project (Sponsored by: The Virginia Port Authority). The James River Container Expansion Project is awarded $1.1 million for the purchase of two barges on Marine Highway Corridor 64 that already is eliminating 6,000 trucks from local highways will remove gridlock from some of the 130,000 trucks traveling between the Hampton Roads container terminals and rail terminals. The existing container-on-barge service between Hampton Roads and Richmond, Va., will grow to three sailings each week by increasing the frequency of service and starting a new inter-terminal barge shuttle between terminals in Hampton Roads.
• The Tennessee-Tombigbee Freight Project (Sponsored by: The Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Development Authority). The Tennessee-Tombigbee Freight Project on Marine Highway Corridor 65 is awarded $1.76 million to help purchase and modify nine barges for a new container transportation service on an all-water route between the Port of Itawamba, Miss., on the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway and the Port of Mobile, Ala., eliminating more than 4,400 truck trips each year.
An additional $800,000 will be used to help further study potential marine highway concepts across the country, including:
• West Coast Hub-Feeder and Golden State Marine Highway ($275,000): The West Coast Hub-Feeder concept proposes services along the U.S. West Coast between Southern California and the Pacific Northwest, including ports along the route. The Golden State Marine Highway Initiative proposes services along the California Coast and calling on 13 ports between Crescent City and San Diego, Calif.
• Illinois-Gulf Marine Highway Initiative ($275,000): This initiative proposes container-on-barge services between Peoria, Ill., and Gulf Coast seaports, creating a new container shipping option between these regions.
• East Coast Marine Highway Initiative and New Jersey Marine Highway Platform ($250,000): The East Coast Marine Highway Initiative proposes to begin a coastal marine service paralleling Interstate 95 and serving areas including Port Canaveral, Fla.; Baltimore, Md.; and New Bedford, Mass., and potentially other East Coast ports as the effort evolves. The New Jersey Marine Highway Platform proposes expansion of water transportation to help move the significant volumes of freight within New Jersey and along interstate routes between ports along the Eastern Seaboard as well.