(WAVY) — The federal government wants to use waterways as an alternative to traditional transportation in our coastal communities, so it’s designated the North Carolina Ferry System as the state’s first Marine Highway Project.
The U.S. Department of Transportation wants to give more money to the ferry system in North Carolina and the Norfolk International Terminal. Officials believe investing in our waterways and ports will give our communities more options for economic development.
“It’s going to open up the door for future federal transportation dollars to improve ferry terminals, shipyard infrastructure as well as modernize ships in the Outer Banks region,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.
Chao says the designation will help improve both local waterways and local roads.
“They offer another option, transportation option, for moving people and freight away from the roads so that the roads can be utilized longer, so that they won’t have as much wear and tear,” said Chao. “The marine highway, the waterways can be tapped to help alleviate the congestion on the roads and be more efficient moving of freight and people as well.”
The Department of Transportation also recently awarded a $20.1 million grant to the Norfolk International Terminals to help improve the port.
“So for example, it’s going to increase rail capacity at the port, which will help spur economic growth,” Chao said. “Ports are very, very important. They are the economic hub of development within a region. If the port is outdated and it’s not in a state of good repair, it cannot fuel the economic growth of the rest of the region.”
The NC Ferry Division director says they are delighted to be included in the Marine Highway Program.
You can learn more about the Marine Highway Program here.
You can learn more about the grant for the Norfolk International Terminals here.
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