The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) in early March announced that $12.4 million was being made available in fiscal year 2023 funds through the United States Marine Highway Program (USMHP), previously known as America’s Marine Highway Program.
The Marine Highway Program seeks to increase the use of America’s navigable waterways, particularly where water-based transport is the most efficient, effective and sustainable option. It aims to help create maritime jobs, strengthen the nation’s supply chains, reduce emissions and lower maintenance costs.
It does not, however, directly operate marine highway services. Instead, it promotes their use, efficiency and public benefits.
“Since the establishment of the marine highways program, MARAD has awarded more than $91.6 million in competitive grants to eligible organizations for marine highway services,” Maritime Administrator Ann Phillips said. “These grants have supported the development and expansion of marine highways, vessels and landside ports and infrastructure, which are critical to building supply chain resilience.”
The DOT has said that it will evaluate applicant projects using criteria including the effect on movement of goods, level of non-federal funding investment, use of domestic preference, consideration of equity, and environmental justice.
It also plans to consider geographic diversity when selecting grant recipients, as well as how the project addresses challenges faced by rural areas.
“America’s waterways serve as critical links in our nation’s supply chains,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg added. “These investments in our marine highways will help to strengthen our supply chains, reduce emissions, and create jobs across the country.”
Applications are required to be submitted through Grants.gov by 8:59 p.m. Pacific time on April 28. About 150 awards are expected to be issued, according to the DOT.
The Marine Highway system currently includes 29 “Marine Highway Routes” that serve as extensions of the surface transportation system, including five West Coast routes and three Pacific island ones. Each all-water route is designated by the Transportation Secretary and offers relief to landside corridors suffering from traffic congestion, excessive air emissions or other environmental challenges