LaHood Backs Water Highways as Alternative to New Road Capacity
By John Latta, Tina Grady Barbaccia and Mike Anderson
The Obama Administration, ambivalent about increased highway capacity, is forging ahead with its support for water route alternatives as a way to ease road congestion.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration designated 14 corridors under its new America’s Marine Highways (AMH) program and announced construction projects related to eight of them with various other initiatives for the other six.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the AMH program four months ago, saying it would relieve congested highways. DOT’s Maritime Administration says it will help identify rivers and coastal routes that could carry cargo efficiently, bypassing congested roads around busy ports and reducing greenhouse gases.
“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,” said LaHood.
LaHood repeated those sentiments in announcing the corridors, projects and initiatives. “Making better use of our rivers and coastal routes offers an intelligent way to relieve some of the biggest challenges we face in transportation – congestion on our roads, climate change, fossil fuel energy use and soaring road maintenance costs,” LaHood said.
The eight corridors selected for construction projects are:
Cross Sound Enhancements Project (Connecticut Department of Transportation), upgrading passenger vehicle ferries operating between New London, Conn., and Orient Point in Long Island, N.Y.
New England Marine Highway Expansion Project (Maine Department of Transportation), expanding an existing container-on-barge service operating from Newark, N.J. to Boston and then to Portland, Maine.
Cross Gulf Container Expansion (Ports of Manatee, FL, and Brownsville, TX), expanding a container-on-barge operation.
Tenn-Tom Waterway Pilot Project (Port Itawamba, Miss.), establishing a new container-on-barge service between the Port of Itawamba, Miss., on the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, and the Port of Mobile, Ala.
Gulf Atlantic Marine Highway Project (South Carolina State Ports Authority and Port of Galveston, TX): this project is intended to transport containerized freight between Gulf, Mid-Atlantic and South Atlantic coastal ports on a modern fleet of U.S. flag vessels.
Detroit-Wayne County Ferry (Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority), developing a cross-border passenger service between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, focusing on transporting commuters.
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