The U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) announced this year’s grant recipients under the United States Marine Highway Program (USMHP). The Marine Highway Program has been a mainstay of AAPA advocacy.

“Investments in America’s seaports are good for the U.S. and its trading prowess,” stated incoming AAPA President and CEO, Cary Davis. “AAPA and the port industry thank our seaports champions in Congress, the Federal Government, and MARAD Administrator Rear Admiral Philips in particular, for their commitment to strengthening the United States’ maritime supply chain.”

The USMHP program funds infrastructure and equipment for expanding waterborne shipping around the U.S. — the safest, greenest, and cheapest form of freight transport. This year, some of the 12 million in funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), will go to several ports working to reduce vehicle traffic, emissions, and community impact by shifting cargo moves on to waterways:

• The Kaskaskia Regional Port District was awarded $1,008,750 to purchase shuttle cars, the final piece in their infrastructure project to transport coiled steel and cut down on millions of annual truck miles;

• The Port of Beaumont Navigation District of Jefferson County, Texas was awarded $2,041,925 to purchase two reach stackers, critical to augment barge shipping capacity, reducing emissions along the Houston ship channel; and

• The Port of Bellingham was awarded $1,021,747 to purchase equipment necessary to move cargo along M-5, a marine highway route between Washington state and San Diego—a water route parallel to I-5, a congested road route.

Notably, the program has been slightly expanded this year to acknowledge the US's North American supply chain integration. It now includes water routes to Canada and Mexico.

It is imperative, as with all USDOT discretionary grant programs, that these funds are distributed quickly, with no red tape or excessive permitting slowdowns. Speedy implementation of the grant projects this year is crucial to growing USMHP and ensuring that critical goods get moved through our supply chain smoothly and efficiently.