Brownwater News,

November 2016
Nov 17, 2016 12:57 PM

Six national Marine Highway projects, including four inland container-on-barge operations, have received $4.85 million in grants from the U.S. Maritime Administration (MarAd).

The goal of the Marine Highway Program is to expand the use of U.S. waterways to relieve highway congestion, reduce air pollution and generate other public benefits by increasing the efficiency of the surface transportation system.

“It is essential that we invest in integrated, multi-modal transportation systems that support the efficient movement of freight and people throughout this country,” said Maritime Administrator Paul “Chip” Jaenichen. “Our nation’s extensive network of waterways and domestic seaports provide an opportunity to help stimulate economic growth while reducing congestion on our national freight transportation system.”

An award of $1.75 million will support a container shuttle service between Memphis, Tenn., and the ports of Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Empty containers that would otherwise move by truck or rail are collected in Memphis and barged to Baton Rouge to meet the demand for chemical industry exports. The loaded containers then head downriver to New Orleans, where they are transferred onto ships. The operation, which MarAd said would begin with five barges per week, could potentially eliminate 12,500 truck trips each year.

In Illinois, America’s Central Port in Granite City received $713,000 for 18-month container-on-barge demonstration project. The shuttle operation will allow agricultural customers moving containerized exports between southern and northern Illinois to access the Union Pacific and BNSF rail ramps. The service will operate on the Illinois and Mississippi rivers between Channahon and Granite City.

An award of $476,748 will support the 64 Express, an existing container-on-barge service that operates along the James River between Hampton Roads and Richmond, Va. The grant will expand the service to include moving refrigerated and frozen products on the barge. The 64 Express is already removing more than 15,000 truck trips per year from congested regional highways, according to MarAd.

The St. Louis Port Authority and three partners — Inland Rivers Ports & Terminals Inc., the Mississippi Rivers Cities & Towns Initiative, and the Upper Mississippi River Basin Association — were awarded $96,000 to support the development of containerized shipping along the Mississippi River between Chicago, Ill.; Minneapolis, Minn.; and New Orleans.

Other Marine Highway grants went to an existing container and trailer-on-barge service in New York Harbor ($1.63 million) and a Potomac River commuter ferry project ($173,361).

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