America's Marine Highway Program
America's Marine Highways are navigable waterways that have been designated by the Secretary of Transportation and have demonstrated the ability to provide additional capacity to relieve congested landside routes serving freight and passenger movement. The America's Marine Highway Program, established by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, is a Department of Transportation- led initiative to expand the use of waterborne transportation while relieving landside congestion and reducing carbon emissions. The program is designed to focus on the integration of Marine Highways into the nation's surface transportation system, providing seamless transition across all modes by leveraging marine services to complement landside surface transportation routes.
America's Marine Highways consist of over 29,000 nautical miles of navigable waterways including rivers, bays, channels, the Great Lakes, and Saint Lawrence Seaway System and coastal routes. The Marine Highway system is a robust and efficient means of moving freight in terms of cost per ton-mile-- and yet, it is the most underutilized of our transportation modes. In 2007, water services carried only 13 percent of the nation's ton-miles of domestic freight, down from 26 percent in 1965.
To lead the development and expansion of marine highway services throughout the U.S. and facilitate their integration into the surface transportation system.
Reliable, regularly scheduled, competitive and sustainable services employing U.S. ships and tugs are a routine choice for shippers.
- Contributes to our nation's economic competitiveness while creating and sustaining jobs;
- Provides environmental benefits through mandatory use of modern engine technology on designated projects;
- Provides the ability to add cost-effective new freight and passenger transportation capacity,
- Reduces wear and tear on roads and bridges,
- Provides resiliency to the surface transportation system;
- Offers an environmentally sustainable transportation system that requires less energy and reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per ton-mile of freight moved;
- Adds to the nation's strategic sealift resources and creates new opportunities for the nation's shipbuilding industry; and
- Improves public safety and security by providing alternatives for the safe movement of hazardous materials, and adds system redundancy when needed during times of disaster.
Marine Highway Corridors
These all-water routes consist of 11 Corridors, 4 Connectors and 3 Crossings that serve as extensions of the surface transportation system. These corridors identify routes where water transportation presents an opportunity to offer relief to landside corridors that suffer from traffic congestion, excessive air emissions or other environmental concerns and challenges. Corridors are generally longer, multi-state routes whereas Connectors represent shorter routes that serve as feeders to the larger Corridors. Crossings are short routes that transit harbors or waterways and offer alternatives to much longer or less convenient land routes between points. By designating these Marine Highway Corridors, Connectors and Crossings, the Secretary of Transportation is taking the first step to focus public and private efforts to use the waterways to relieve landside congestion. The use of waterways has the potential to provide other benefits in the form of reduced greenhouse gas emissions, energy savings and increased system resiliency. Corridor application information can be in found the Final Rule in the Federal Register. Please click on this link to view the Marine Highway Corridors, Connectors and Crossings: Click here for Corridor Descriptions.
Marine Highway Projects
Currently, there are 8 projects that were designated by the Secretary in 2010. These projects represent new or expanded Marine Highway Services that offer public benefits and long-term sustainability without long-term Federal support. These projects will receive preferential treatment for any future federal assistance from the Department and MARAD. The projects will help start new businesses or expand existing ones to move more freight or passengers along America’s coastlines and waterways. The services have the potential to reduce air pollution and traffic congestion along surface corridors as well as provide jobs for skilled mariners and shipbuilders. A "Call for Projects" is held approximately every 2 years and notices are published through the Federal Register. The Solicitation of Applications for Marine Highway Projects was published in the Federal Register on April 15, 2010. The projects were selected from among 35 applications from ports and local transportation planning agencies received by the Maritime Administration (MARAD). Please click on this link to view the designated Marine Highway Projects: Click here for Marine Highway Project Descriptions
Marine Highway Initiatives
In addition to Projects, the Secretary designated six initiatives. While not developed to the level required to receive Project designation, they offer promise of potential in the future. While not eligible to compete for upcoming Marine Highway Grants, these “Marine Highway Initiatives” will receive support from the Department of Transportation in the form of assistance in further developing the concepts through conduct of research, market analysis and other efforts to identify the opportunities they may present. Initiatives are designated through an application process discussed in the Solicitation of Applications for Marine Highway Projects. Applicants designated by the Secretary and will receive additional support from the Department through the Office of Marine Highways. Please click on this link to view the Marine Highway Initiatives: Click here for Marine Highway Initiative Descriptions
Marine Highway Grants
The first round of Marine Highway Grants were awarded in September 2010. Should additional funding be made available, a notice in the Federal Register will be published. Please click on the attached Notice of Funding Availability for additional information concerning Marine Highway Grants: Guidance on applying for Marine Highway Grants
America's Marine Highways are supported in several ways, including through reports and publications from government and academia. Refer to the Program's Reference Library for more information.
- Click here for the Marine Highway Corridor Map
- Click here for America's Marine Highway Program - Report to Congress - April 2011
- Click here For AMH Design Project Final Report (Dual Use Vessel Study)
If you are a member of a Regional or National Marine Highway Committee, or would like to join one, please e-mail us so we can assist you.
List of non funding related assistance offered by the Office of Marine Highways and Passenger Services.