Wednesday, April 7, 2010

US Government To Support 'Marine Highways'

New Initiative Launched
Shipping News Feature

USA – The U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has today announced a new initiative to encourage the movement of more cargo on the rivers and short-sea routes to help relieve pressure on the American highway network.

The “America’s Marine Highway” program, run by the Transport Department’s Maritime Administration (MARAD), is designed to identify rivers and coastal routes that could carry cargo efficiently, bypassing congested roads around busy ports and reducing greenhouse gases.

Speaking at the 7th Annual North American Marine Highways and Logistics Conference in Baltimore, Maryland, Secretary LaHood said that:

“For too long, we’ve overlooked the economic and environmental benefits that our waterways and domestic seaports offer as a means of moving freight in this country.

“Moving goods on the water has many advantages: It reduces air pollution. It can help reduce gridlock by getting trucks off our busy surface corridors.”

Currently coastal and river shipping moves a billion metric tons of cargo around the U.S. every year, which makes up less than 4 percent by volume of America's domestic freight .

The new scheme means that routes designated as Marine Highways will be eligible for preferential funding from federal transportation programs. To date some $65 million in federal funding has been allocated to supporting the new program.