America’s Marine Highway Report to Congress
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America’s Marine Highway Report to Congress

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    This Report to Congress is required by Sections 1121 and 1123 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (Energy Act). Section 1121 directs the Secretary of Transportation (Secretary) to establish a short sea transportation program and designate short sea transportation projects under the program to mitigate landside congestion. The Maritime Administration (MARAD) has implemented this short sea transportation program as the “America’s Marine Highway Program” (the Program). The Program is intended to expand the use of our inland, Great Lakes Saint Lawrence Seaway System, intracoastal, and coastal waterways for the transportation of freight (loaded in containers and trailers) and passengers to mitigate landside congestion, reduce greenhouse gas emissions per ton-mile of freight moved, and accomplish other objectives. The first section of this report provides the justification for expanding the utilization of Marine Highway services. It describes the interests of the Federal government in encouraging greater use of Marine Highways and, through the example of Europe, shows that government policy can be successful in achieving this result. An important point of this section is that the full range of public benefits of Marine Highway services will not be realized based solely on market-driven transportation choices. This report illustrates that the opportunity to more effectively balance our national transportation system – with numerous transportation services, including rail, road, and water – is attractive for a number of reasons. A balanced system that takes advantage of the relative strengths of each mode can better address the transportation challenges of growing surface congestion, aging infrastructure, and system repair and expansion. These challenges, combined with growing public pressure to improve the environment and the need to reduce our nation’s dependence on petroleum fuels, make America’s Marine Highway an attractive transportation choice. Furthermore, it can help our government’s response to and recovery from emergencies and provide mobility resources to support national defense.
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