America’s Marine Highway Projects

America's Marine Highways

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America has a versatile and expansive network of navigable waterways including: rivers, bays, channels, coasts, the Great Lakes, open-ocean routes and the Saint Lawrence Seaway System. We like to think of this as "America's marine highway," a network of maritime expressways having as many benefits (in some cases more) as America's road network.

However, America's waterways are underused. The benefits of using our marine waterways -- such as reducing landside congestion and reducing system wear and tear -- are not perceived on an individual level. Using our waterways more consistently would create more public benefits and incentivize shippers to use these critical transportation channels.

MARAD's Marine Highway Program has one major goal: expand the use of America's navigable waters. We work closely with public and private organizations to:

  • develop and expand marine highway service options and facilitate their further integration into the current U.S. surface transportation system, especially where water-based transport is the most efficient, effective and sustainable option
  • highlight the benefits, increase public awareness and promote waterways as a viable (in some cases a superior) alternative to "landside" shipping and transportation options

We do not directly operate marine highway services. Rather, we promote their use, efficiency and public benefits.

Important Links:

Port Planning and Investment Toolkit – Marine Highway
America’s Marine Highway Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Project Designation 
Route Designation 
For a full list and explanation of the public benefits, see pages 11-37 of the America’s Marine Highway Report to Congress (April 2011).