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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

United States Marine Highway Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are United States Marine Highways?

United States Marine Highways are navigable waterways that have been designated by the Secretary of Transportation and have demonstrated the ability to provide additional capacity to relieve congested landside routes serving freight and passenger movement. Each marine highway has a corridor designation that reflects the congested landside route it parallels. For example, M-95 stretches from Maine to Florida and is the designation for the shipping lane along the Atlantic Coast paralleling interstate highway I-95.

Who should I contact in my region to talk about the United States Marine Highway Program?

Please contact your local Maritime Administration (MARAD) Gateway Office for more information.

What is the difference between marine highways and short-sea shipping?

Short-sea shipping commonly refers to coast-wise waterborne transportation of freight and/or passengers by navigable waterways without crossing an ocean. Marine Highways are short-sea routes and inland water routes within the U.S. that have been designated by the Secretary of Transportation. The United States Marine Highway Program, administered by the Maritime Administration, was formed to help develop new and expand existing U.S.-flag services that transport passengers and/or containerized or trailerized freight along Marine Highways.

What’s the difference between a corridor, connector, and crossing?

The Marine Highway Program Final Rule changed the name of corridors, connectors, and crossings to Marine Highway Routes. Routes can be designated 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. 

How do I apply for designation as a Marine Highway Route?

Public entities are eligible to apply for the designation of navigable waters. Contents of the application include a narrative portion that should not exceed 20 pages in length. Applications may be submitted electronically via Instructions regarding applications are included in the Final Rule for America’s Marine Highway program published Dec 1, 2017. For more info, contact a Gateway Office Director in your region.