Photo: U.S. Department of Transportation – Maritime Administration
Goods movement is about the transportation of cargo via air, sea, rail, and road. Yet, it’s easy to forget how essential the maritime industry piece is to the overall economy and flow of commerce. Unless you work or reside near a port, it’s unlikely that you’d see that point of transaction. After all, we frequently see containers on trucks, trains, and no doubt have sent or received packages by air mail.
Fortunately, the Department of Transportation (DOT) recognizes the crucial role that coastal and river transportation play. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood spoke last week at the North American Marine Highways and Logistics Conference. He spoke on the state of America’s Marine Highway System and future investment in multi-modal forms of transit. More specifically, he provided a roadmap and report highlighting DOT accomplishments and developments since the inception of the Marine Highway System program in fall 2010. At the outset, the program received $215 million in grants, establishing 18 new waterway corridors (pictured).
These corridors identify routes where water transportation presents an opportunity to offer relief to landside corridors that suffer from traffic congestion, excessive air emissions or other environmental concerns and other challenges. (Maritime Administration)
LaHood further added that such corridors and water routes are essential to the prosperity of the United States.
When we finish America’s fully-integrated, national marine highway system, our legacy will be more than routes on water. It will be a country less dependent on foreign oil. It will be a 21st century way to move people and goods. And it will be a future that America is prepared to win. (DOT Blog)
The report submitted to Congress, outlines four intended outcomes:
– Improve our nation’s economic competitiveness while creating and sustaining jobs.
– Provide a more environmentally sustainable transportation system that reduces reliance on imported oil while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
– Benefit global national security while sustaining military operations abroad, and support domestic shipbuilding industry.
– Ensure public safety and security through the safe movement of passengers, freight, and hazardous materials.
The report further identifies 25,000 miles of inland waterways (bays, rivers, channels) that could be used to transport freight. It’s expected that by 2035 freight tonnage moved will increase by 73% from 2008 levels. This huge jump will place a strain on our current road and rail reliance, resulting in the need for alternative forms of goods movement.
America’s marine highway system: delivering goods more efficiently, reducing dependence on foreign oil