WATERWAYSMarine Highways Bolster Supply Chain Efficiency, Resilience

Published 21 April 2022

The increased use of the nation’s navigable waterways relieves landside congestion, provides new and efficient transportation options, increases the productivity of the surface transportation system, and strengthens the U.S. supply chains.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) on Tuesday announced the designation of a new Marine Highway Route, two new Marine Highway Projects, and one Project Designation Extension as part of the America’s Marine Highway Program (AMHP). While focusing on supply chain efficiency will have nationwide effects, the states of Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, California, and Oregon will receive new routes, designations, or extensions. 

The America’s Marine Highway Program supports the increased use of the nation’s navigable waterways to relieve landside congestion, provide new and efficient transportation options, and increase the productivity of the surface transportation system. By working closely with public and private organizations, the AMHP helps create and sustain American jobs in U.S. ports, on vessels, and at shipyards, while also improving our supply chains. 

“Investments in the America’s Marine Highway Program help us move more goods more quickly and more efficiently to the American people, supporting our supply chains even while they continue to come under pressure from pandemic-driven disruptions,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg. “Today’s announcements are an important step in the Administration’s Port Action Plan to strengthen our supply chains, modernize port operations, and combat inflation.”

Since its inception in 2014, the AMHP has designated 54 marine highway projects. A Marine Highway Project is a planned service, or expansion of an existing service, on a designated Marine Highway Route. A Marine Highway Route is a navigable waterway, capable of transporting freight, located in the United States or its territories. Since 2010, Secretaries of Transportation have designated a total of 29 Marine Highway Routes.   

In March, the Department announced the availability of nearly $25 million in grant funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for the AMHP. This funding—which is the largest single appropriation of funding in the program’s history—was made possible by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

“Put simply, President Biden is leading the largest-ever federal investment in modernizing our country’s ports—and our domestic coastwise services—and improving both our supply chains and the lives of Americans who depend on them,” said Acting Maritime Administrator Lucinda Lessley. “This is truly an extraordinary moment.”