The U.S. Department of Transportation recently established two new Marine Highway Routes – M-11 and M-79 – to help speed up the movement of goods, strengthen supply chains, and support local economies in Alaska, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.
[Above: Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) and USDOT Sec. Pete Buttigieg. Photo by the USDOT.]
The U.S. Maritime Administration – an operating administration of USDOT known as MARAD – noted in a statement that those two new routes are part of the U.S. Marine Highway Program or MHP, which previously went by the moniker “America’s Marine Highway Program.”
MARAD explained that the MHP supports the increased use of America’s navigable waterways to relieve landside traffic congestion, provide new and efficient freight transportation options, and increase the productivity of the surface transportation system.
The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities is the sponsor of the M-11 route; a waterway that will add over 6,500 miles to the MHP with the inclusion of the coastal and river ports in southwestern and northern Alaska from the Aleutian Islands to the Canadian border.
Meanwhile, the M-79 Marine Highway Route – co-sponsored by the Port of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania and the Morgantown Monongalia Metropolitan Planning Organization in West Virginia – extends the reach of the Ohio River system by nearly 250 miles, adding the easternmost tributary rivers.
MARAD added that, since its inception in 2010, the MHP has established 31 Marine Highway Routes, which is a navigable waterway capable of transporting freight and located in the United States or its territories.
The agency also issued a notice of funding opportunity in March that made more than $12.4 million in fiscal year 2023 grants available to support a variety of marine highway projects.