This week, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that his agency would seek to encourage transport and commerce on inland waterways and domestic seaports. Sec. LaHood made the announcement at the 7th annual North American Marine Highways and Logistics Conference in Baltimore.

According to LaHood, encouraging the movement of cargo on these waterways simply makes economic and environmental sense. This would

  • Help reduce congestion on American highways,
  • Help reduce the emission of greenhouse gases,
  • Help increase employment opportunities for those in the maritime and ship building industries.

The Department of Transportation is proposing the development of marine transportation corridors. Regional transportation agencies will be able to apply for such corridors if they meet certain eligibility criteria for marine highways. Individual projects too could be sanctioned under this new initiative.

Under the program, called the America’s Marine Highways program, the Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration will identify new waterways and coastal routes that will allow for the easy and smooth movement of cargo. The Department of Transportation earlier this year announced grants amounting to a total of $58 million to support the Marine Highways program. An additional $7 million has been earmarked by Congress.

This initiative means greater employment opportunities for maritime workers and our seamen. Obviously, that’s good news in these uncertain times when the domestic shipping industry needs all the incentive it can get. However, it also means that there could be increased vessel traffic on our waterways. As maritime lawyers, we hope that any proposal to reduce highway congestion and improve maritime transportation, also includes stronger safety measures for vessels and crewmembers.

The maritime lawyers at Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., Accident & Injury Lawyers represent injured maritime workers, including anchormen, oil rig and offshore workers, cruise ship crews, fishing vessel crews, barge and tugboat operators, and other maritime workers injured in maritime accidents in the state of Texas, and nationwide

Update 9/18: To learn more about the America’s Marine Highways program, visit: https://www.marad.dot.gov/ships-and-shipping/dot-maritime-administration-americas-marine-highway-program/