MARAD Awards $7.5M for Marine Highway Projects

Seacor container on barge service (file image courtesy Seacor AMH)

Published Jan 8, 2020 11:06 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Tuesday, the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) announced awards totaling $7.5 million for nine U.S. marine highway projects. The funding, provided by MARAD’s America’s Marine Highway Program, will go towards enhancing existing services in the states of Florida, South Carolina, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Oregon, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

In the final FY2020 spending bill signed by the president in December, the AMH program received $9.8 million in funding, nearly $3 million more than it had received for FY2019.

“[The American Association of Port Authorities] supports MARAD’s America’s Marine Highways Program, and advocated for a $15 million funding level for the program in fiscal 2020,” remarked Chris Connor, AAPA’s president and CEO. “This program is an asset that enables ports and port communities to fully realize their potential in managing increasing freight volumes while reducing traffic congestion.

The awards included:

Florida and South Carolina: M-95 Fernandina Express Container on Barge Service (awarded $1,291,800)
Sponsored by the Ocean Highway and Port Authority of Nassau County, the grant will support the purchase of marine terminal handling equipment essential for the efficient loading and unloading for the Fernandina Express container barge service between the Port of Fernandina and the Port of Charleston.  The route the service will operate has demonstrated potential for growth and the creation of an estimated 110 jobs.

Kentucky, Louisiana: Paducah-McCracken Container on Barge Marine Highway Project (awarded $480,000)
Sponsored by the Paducah-McCracken County Riverport Authority, the grant will be used to support the purchase or lease of facility and transportation equipment at a Baton Rouge facility that will be used to load and unload containers.  The Paducah-McCracken Container on Barge Marine Highway service will be centrally located at the confluence of five inland waterways and operate to the international export ports of Louisiana.

Louisiana: Baton Rouge-New Orleans Shuttle of the M-55 (awarded $1,040,000)
Sponsored by SEACOR AMH, the grant will be used to purchase six purpose-built barges and lease one towboat.  The vessels will be used to support the growing Port Allen to New Orleans container shuttle. In addition to increasing the shuttle’s capacity, this award will help stimulate the U.S. shipbuilding industry on America’s inland waterways. 

Michigan: Lake Erie Shuttle (awarded $1,101,735)
Sponsored by the Port of Monroe, the grant will be used to support the Lake Erie Shuttle Service, including the purchase and installation of a crawler crane and the training associated with its use.

Oregon: Port of Morrow M-84 Barge Service Expansion (awarded $1,623,200)
Sponsored by the Port of Morrow, the grant will be used to support the expansion of barge services from the Port of Morrow to Portland, Oregon; Vancouver, Washington; and Longview, Washington.  The expansion will include the enhancement of two marine terminals that will ultimately allow the port greater access to the region, increasing the economic potential in this rural area.

Texas: Houston Gateway and Gulf Container on Barge Central Node (awarded $180,000)
Sponsored by the Port of Houston Authority, the grant will support the development of an Operational Plan.  The planning efforts and outcomes from this study will provide the necessary data to establish a business case to support shipping container movements by barge between terminals.

Virginia: James River Expansion Project (awarded $189,840)
Sponsored by the Port of Virginia, the grant will be used to purchase equipment in support of the existing James River Expansion Project on M-64.  The equipment will help the Richmond Marine Terminal provide a more efficient barge service operation to current and potential customers.

Virginia: Wallops Island M-95 Intermodal Barge Service (awarded $96,425)
Sponsored by the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority, the grant will be used to design a new trestle and combination dock/ramp to support the loading and unloading of barges and research vessels at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS).  The project will improve public safety, generate jobs in a rural area, and increase the site capabilities of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport.

Washington: Seattle-Bainbridge Island Ferry Service (awarded $1,500,000)
Sponsored by the Washington State Ferries, the grant will be used to support the conversion of one of the two ferries used in the Seattle-Bainbridge Island Ferry Service from diesel to hybrid, resulting in a significant reduction in emissions.

“The America’s Marine Highway Program is dedicated to expanding the use of our inland waterways for freight movement,” said Maritime Administrator Mark H. Buzby.  “This round of grant funding will be used to continue that expansion and ensure that our waterways are used effectively.”