April 18, 2016
By David Murray
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx designated three new Marine Highway Projects on April 8. A Marine Highway Project is a planned service, or expansion of an existing service, on a designated Marine Highway Route that provides new modal choices to shippers of cargo, reduces transportation costs, and provides public benefits including reduced air emissions, reduced road maintenance costs and improved safety and resiliency.
The Mississippi River, previously designated as the M-55, will serve as the primary route for the Baton Rouge-New Orleans Shuttle project. Sponsored by the Port of New Orleans in partnership with the Port of Greater Baton Rouge and SEACOR AMH LLC, the proposed container-on-barge service will operate between the ports of Greater Baton Rouge and New Orleans, reducing congestion and bridge traffic on Louisiana’s Interstate 10.
Also operating along the M-55 from Chicago, Ill., to New Orleans, La., the proposed Illinois Intrastate Shuttle project is designed to shift about 5,500 containers in its first year of operation from congested north-south Interstate 55 to the Mississippi River. Sponsored by America’s Central Port in Granite City, Ill., the container on barge service will provide soybean and grain shippers a new routing option.
Dennis Wilmsmeyer, executive director of America’s Central Port, gave credit to the Illinois Soybean Association for much of the work that led to the Marine Highway designation for the Illinois Intrastate Shuttle.
“The Illinois Soybean Association was the primary driver, doing tremendous work and bringing together many partners,” he told The Waterways Journal. Wilmsmeyer said the designation also received strong support from both of Illinois’ senators, Democrat Dick Durbin and Republican Mark Kirk, as well as the rest of its congressional delegation. “We’re pleased and honored that this designation draws more attention to our port and the importance of this region.”
The third service, the Lake Erie Shuttle, is a proposed route that will carry cargo for shippers between the ports of Monroe, Minn., Cleveland Ohio, and Detroit, Mich. The service is sponsored by the Port of Monroe.