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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

Office of Ports & Waterways

A well-lit port at night.

There are more than 300 ports in the United States, and they are all different. Ports may be operated by a state, a county, a municipality, a private corporation, or a combination. Many ports are complex entities, involving facilities for transportation by several modes of transportation: water, rail, road, or even air. Ports are a vitally important part of the nationwide Marine Transportation System, which includes not only ports, but also inland and coastal waterways, and the inter-modal connectors. The Maritime Administration through it’s multiple programs provide expertise on port finance and port infrastructure, and has assisted major ports in their recent redevelopment plans.

The Office of Ports & Waterways was established to assist with port, terminal, waterway, and transportation network development issues:

  • Coordinating and managing port infrastructure projects for a variety of entities, including state, local, and territorial authorities.
  • Providing discretionary grant funding on a competitive basis for maritime infrastructure projects.
  • Leading national efforts to reduce congestion on the Nation’s highways and rails by promoting the use of waterways and ports.
  • Coordinating and directing studies, surveys, and investigations of port and inter-modal facilities, including recommending improvements in their operation and new locations and types of facilities and equipment that make the entire transportation system more efficient and productive.
  • Informing and advising organizations and individuals in the analysis of inter-modal economics, the development of applicable information systems, investigating institutional and regulatory impediments and the application of appropriate transportation management systems.
  • Informing the general public concerning the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Act – A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) and successor legislation.
  • Providing technical advice and education on ports to foreign countries, and furnishing foreign port information to the Congress and government agencies.

Click on the links below to go to the various program element pages within this Office.

Port Planning & Investment Toolkit

Developed as a part of a cooperative agreement between the Department of Transportation and the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA), the goal of the Port Planning & Investment Toolkit is to provide U.S. ports with a common framework and examples of best practices.