Thursday, August 19, 2010

West Coast Initiative Named Potential Grantee sor Marine Highway Funds

United States Transportation Secretary Roy LaHood announced last week that the initial projects eligible for funding under the Marine Highway Program will include the Golden State Marine Highway Initiative for the state of California.

In all, LaHood named eight projects and six initiatives nationwide as eligible for funding under the program.

The project and initiative operators will now have to vie for the $7 million in federal Marine Highway Program funds available. Grant requests must be submitted by Aug. 27.

Of the 35 total port and transportation agency applicants, the Golden State initiative was the only West Coast proposal to be selected as a potential grantee.

The Golden State Initiative will provide funding to the ports of Redwood City, Hueneme and San Diego and the Humboldt Bay Harbor District for the development of a 1,100-mile Marine Highway along the West Coast of California. The project may ultimately extend further north, possibly into the Pacific Northwest.

The federal Marine Highway Program, launched in April, seeks to support 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. Projects eligible for funding are new waterborne services or expansion of current services between US ports.

Fully implemented, the Golden State Marine Highway Initiative could provide an alternative to domestic north-south freight traffic along the highly congested Interstate-5 in California. This could provide some relief to considerable annual truck delays in several urban areas of California and relieve some of Southern California’s freight rail congestion identified by the US Department of Transportation.