The America’s Marine Highway (AMH) program was established in 2007 with the aim to develop a national marine highway as a viable alternative to land-based transportation and shipping.
The AMH is a United States Department of Transportation (DOT) initiative, aimed to use the United States 29,000 miles of navigable waterways to alleviate traffic and wear to the nation’s highways caused by tractor trailer traffic.
Research has shown that transporting by barge or ship is the most fuel-efficient method of transporting goods (per Ton-Mile), being over 8x’s more efficient than tractor-trailers and double what is achievable by rail.
The Marine Highway system currently includes 25 “Marine Highway routes” that serve as extensions of the surface transportation system.
Michigan’s Lake St. Clair is apart of the M-90 Marine Highway Corridor.
Recently, US Transport Secretary Elaine L. Chao has awarded $9.5 million dollars in grants to 8 marine highway projects.
The projects will receive the funding as they contribute to the enhancement of navigable waterways, expanding waterborne freight services in several states including, New York, New Jersey and Washington.
“This federal assistance will provide additional options to reduce congestion on the roads and help the surrounding local communities’ and the regions’ economic recovery,” said Chao.
In New York, funds were granted to support the launch of a new barge service between New Jersey’s Kearny Point and New York’s Newtown Creek.
The sum awarded – which will fund the planning, permitting operations, as well as engineering studies – will allow to transform New York’s harbor and its ports into a central marine highway hub for barge services.
Another project will consist in the expansion of barge services from Oregon to the suburb of Vancouver, in the state of Washington.
“The continued expansion and modernization of the U.S. marine transportation system benefits the maritime industry,” said Mark H. Buzby, maritime administrator at the United States Maritime Administration.
“US waterway freight systems offer a safe and efficient option for shippers and reduce road traffic and emissions while providing jobs, commerce, and crucial resources to dozens of communities across multiple states.”
The United States Navy is considering the America’s Marine Highway as an opportunity to breathe life into their aging Military Sealift Command (MSC) Fleet.
The US Navy entered into a Memorandum of Agreement with MARAD to develop a U.S. built and U.S. manned dual-use vessel to sail in peacetime in trade and to provide sealift capabilities during times of National Emergency.