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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

America’s Marine Highway Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are America’s Marine Highways?

America’s Marine Highways are navigable waterways that have been designated by the Secretary of Transportation and have demonstrated the ability to provide additional capacity to relieve congested landside routes serving freight and passenger movement. Each marine highway has a corridor designation that reflects the congested landside route it parallels. For example, M-95 stretches from Maine to Florida and is the designation for the shipping lane along the Atlantic Coast paralleling interstate highway I-95.

Who should I contact in my region to talk about America’s Marine Highway Program?

Please contact your local Maritime Administration (MARAD) Gateway Office for more information.

What is the difference between marine highways and short sea shipping?

Short-sea shipping commonly refers to coast-wise waterborne transportation of freight and/or passengers by navigable waterways without crossing an ocean. Marine Highways are short-sea routes and inland water routes within the U.S. that have been designated by the Secretary of Transportation. America’s Marine Highway Program, administered by the Maritime Administration, was formed to help develop new, and expand existing, U.S.-flag services that transport passengers and/or containerized or trailerized freight along Marine Highways.

What’s the difference between a corridor, connector, and crossing?

Corridors, connectors, and crossings 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. Corridors are generally longer, multi-state routes, whereas connectors represent shorter routes that feed into the larger corridors. Crossings are short routes that transit harbors or waterways and offer alternatives to much longer or less convenient land routes between points.

How do I apply for designation as a corridor, connector or crossing?

Corridor, connector, and crossing applications from public entities are always welcome. Contents of the application include a narrative portion that should not exceed 20 pages in length. Applications may be submitted electronically via the Marine Highway e-mail address. Please mail a hard copy to the Administrator of the Maritime Administration, 1200 New Jersey Ave., SE Washington, DC 20590-0001 Room W22-318, MAR-100. Instructions regarding applications are included in the Final Rule for America’s Marine Highway program published April 9, 2010. For more info, contact a Gateway Office Director in your region.

What is the difference between a designated project and a designated initiative?

Designated projects have been recognized by the Secretary of Transportation as having the ability to create new marine highway services or expand existing services. Project designations are obtained through an application process. The first “Call for Projects” applications were held in 2010. Calls for projects are published by the Federal Register approximately every two years. Designated initiatives are recognized by the Secretary as being potential projects that have not yet been developed to the point of proposing specific services and routes required of project designation. For more information, contact your local Maritime Administration Gateway Office.

What are the benefits of being designated a Marine Highway Project?

Designated projects receive preferential treatment from the Department and MARAD. In addition to possible funding assistance, the Office of Marine Highways, supported by the Gateway Offices, may provide other support services. Once project designation has been received, you do not need to apply in future calls for projects. However, a letter updating the status of your project is required to be submitted every two years. Project designation will remain with the public sponsor of the project unless the project has substantially changed.

I have been designated an initiative. May I apply for project designation in the future?

Absolutely! You would be eligible during the next “Call for Projects” and a complete updated application meeting all criteria would be required for consideration. Contact your local Gateway Office for more information.

Last updated: Tuesday, April 5, 2022