The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) recently announced the designation of the Port of Beaumont’s Marine Highway Project, a proposed container on barge operation from the Port of Beaumont to Port Houston, in partnership with Iron Horse Terminals.  

The America’s Marine Highway Program (AMHP) authorizes the designation of Marine Highway Routes and Marine Highway Projects. A Marine Highway Project is a planned service, or expansion of an existing service, on a waterway that has been designated “Marine Highway Route.” The Beaumont area is located along two established Marine Highway Routes- M-10 and M-69. The Marine Highway Project Designation makes projects that aim to use waterways to move cargo instead of interstates, eligible for federal funding under the Marine Highway Grant program. These projects are designed to shift freight off congested highways, onto “marine highways.” Congress has appropriated $10.8 million for America’s Short Sea Transportation Program (America’s Marine Highways) for Fiscal Year 2021.

“The volume of freight handled by the Port of Beaumont, and in Southeast Texas, continues to grow,” said Port Director Chris Fisher, “This project will provide a transportation alternative to shippers that will result in lower transportation costs, reduction in emissions and significant safety benefits.” 

“We are excited to be partnering with the Port of Beaumont on this project to help increase the efficiency of the regional supply chain and provide options for manufacturers and producers when moving product out of the region and internationally,” says Iron Horse Terminals General Manager Cody Birdwell.

The proposed container on barge project will allow manufacturers in Southeast Texas to use the marine highway system as an alternative to existing truck and rail infrastructure. It is projected that a minimum of 13,000 forty-foot equivalent units (FEUs) per year (252 per week) of containerized cargo will be handled by the facility, providing weekly service between the ports of Beaumont and Houston. In partnership with Iron Horse Terminals, the Port of Beaumont Container on Barge operation is projected to reduce truck miles traveled annually by 416,976 miles. The next step will be to determine the feasibility of the proposed project.