The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) on Tuesday announced $6.79 million in grants to three Marine Highway projects.
The funds, which are provided by MARAD’s Marine Highway Program, will go toward enhancing existing services in Louisiana and Virginia and support the development of a new project in New York.
Nearly half of the funds — $3,155,622 — were awarded to the Ports of Baton Rouge and New Orleans Container on Barge service, which will allow them to purchase purpose-built vessels that will increase the viability of the service. The existing service currently moves about 16,800 FEUs between Memphis and Baton Rouge and New Orleans, operating twice weekly to deliver cargo to be loaded on deep-draft containerships.
The project was sponsored by the Port of New Orleans.
The James River Expansion Project on the M-64 in Virginia, sponsored by James River Barge Lines, was awarded $1,822,093. The funds will be used for the construction of a third barge to expand the existing service to accommodate an estimated 27 percent annual growth on the corridor. The 64-Express barge transported 27,626 containers in fiscal year 2018, which was a 23 percent year-over-year growth.
“The addition of a third barge would capitalize on previous Marine Highway Program investments by increasing the number of weekly trips to seven days and carrying an average of 170 containers per trip,” the announcement reads.
The Harbor Harvest Long Island Sound Service, sponsored by the Connecticut Port Authority, was awarded$1,812,285. The grant will assist with the development of the Harbor Harvest “Farm-to-Harbor-to-Market” service, which aims to provide a “viable source of waterborne transportation for Connecticut and Long Island farmers and manufacturers by connecting neighboring communities in addition to creating produce markets in both Connecticut and New York.” The service will reduce highway congestion while moving commodities from more than 3,000 farms, expand the use of Jones Act-supported ships, reduce shipping costs and increase economic opportunities, MARAD said in the announcement.