Project to expand Puerto Rico/Vieques/Culebra maritime service OK’d for federal funding
The US Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) announced the immediate designation of the Puerto Rico Maritime Transportation Services Project — which will establish reliable routes among Ceiba, Culebra, and Vieques — as eligible for federal funding.
The proposal’s designation as an America’s Marine Highway Program (AMHP) project under MARAD can now apply for funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help address supply chain challenges, the federal agency noted.
A Marine Highway Project is a planned service, or expansion of an existing service, on a designated Marine Highway Route. Once a marine highway project is designated by the US Transportation Secretary they are eligible to apply for an AMHP grant award.
“We’re using resources from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to make historic investments in our nation’s marine highways — part of our continuing action to address global supply chain disruptions and lower costs for American families,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.
In March, the Department announced the availability of nearly $25 million in grant funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for the AMHP. The Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Appropriations Act made an additional $14.8 million available for the AMHP.
This is the most funding for Marine Highways in American history. The new Marine Highways announced are eligible to compete for the full funding.
The Puerto Rico Maritime Transportation Services Project is expected to establish reliable routes among Ceiba, Culebra, and Vieques that will allow island residents access to the essential services located primarily on the main island, such as food, groceries, furniture, construction services, materials, and equipment.
Currently, the ferry service is the only way to bring palletized and unitized freight to the island municipalities.
The project will promote better development opportunities for residents and businesses through the development of both Ceiba and the islands.
“All the goods and services available in the islands are dependent on the limited maritime freight vessels available now. This designation reinforces the importance of maritime transportation as the economic lifeline for Culebra and Vieques,” the US Department of Transportation noted.