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S. 3816: Marine Highway Promotion Act


The text of the bill below is as of Mar 10, 2022 (Introduced).


II

117th CONGRESS

2d Session

S. 3816

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

March 10 (legislative day, March 7), 2022

(for himself and Mr. Peters) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation

A BILL

To amend title 46, United States Code, to establish a United States Marine Highway Program, and for other purposes.

1.

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Marine Highway Promotion Act.

2.

Findings

Congress finds the following:

(1)

Our Nation's waterways are an integral part of the transporation network of the United States.

(2)

Using the Nation's coastal, inland, and other waterways can support commercial transportation, and alleviates surface transportation congestion and burdensome road and bridge repair costs.

(3)

Marine highways are serviced by documented United States Flag vessels and manned by United States citizens, providing added resources for national security and to aid in times of crisis.

(4)

According to the United States Army Corps of Engineers, inland navigation is a key element of economics development and is essential in maintaining economic competitiveness and national security.

3.

United States marine highway program

(a)

In general

Section 55601 of title 46, United States Code, is amended to read as follows:

55601.

United States marine highway program

(a)

Program

(1)

Establishment

The Maritime Administrator shall establish a marine highway program to be known as the United States marine highway program. Under such program, the Maritime Administrator shall—

(A)

designate marine highway routes as extensions of the surface transportation system under subsection (b); and

(B)

subject to the availability of appropriations, make grants and enter into contracts and cooperative agreements under subsection (c).

(2)

Program activities

In carrying out the marine highway program established under paragraph (1), the Maritime Administrator may—

(A)

coordinate with ports, State departments of transportation, localities, other public agencies, and the private sector on the development of landside facilities and infrastructure to support marine highway transportation;

(B)

develop performance measures for such marine highway program;

(C)

collect and disseminate data for the designation and delineation of marine highway routes under subsection (b); and

(D)

conduct research on solutions to impediments to marine highway services eligible for assistance under subsection (c)(1).

(b)

Designation of marine highway routes

(1)

Authority

The Maritime Administrator may designate or modify a marine highway route as an extension of the surface transportation system if—

(A)

such a designation or modification is requested by the Governor of a State or territory; and

(B)

the Maritime Administrator determines such marine highway route satisfies at least one covered function under subsection (d).

(2)

Determination

Not later than 180 days after the date on which the Maritime Administrator receives a request for designation or modification of a marine highway route under paragraph (1), the Maritime Administrator shall make a determination of whether to make the requested designation or modification.

(3)

Notification

Not later than 14 days after the date on which the Maritime Administrator makes the determination whether to make the requested designation or modification, the Maritime Administrator shall send the requester a notification of the determination.

(4)

Map

Not later than 120 days after the date of enactment of the United States Marine Highway Promotion Act, and thereafter each time a marine highway route is designated or modified, the Administrator shall make publicly available a map showing the location of marine highway routes, including such routes along the coasts, in the inland waterways, and at sea.

(c)

Assistance for marine highway services

(1)

In general

The Maritime Administrator may make grants to, or enter into contracts or cooperative agreements with an applicant to implement a marine highway service or component of a marine highway service, if the Administrator determines the service—

(A)

satisfies at least one covered function under subsection (d);

(B)

uses vessels documented under chapter 121;

(C)

develops, expands, or promotes—

(i)

marine highway transportation services;

(ii)

shipper utilization of marine highway transportation; or

(iii)

infrastructure for which assistance is not available under section 5307(h) of title 49; or

(D)

implements strategies developed under section 55603.

(2)

Application

To be eligible to receive a grant or enter into a contract or cooperative agreement under this subsection to implement a marine highway service, an applicant shall—

(A)

submit an application in such form and manner, at such time, and containing such information as the Maritime Administrator may require, including a comprehensive description of—

(i)

the regions to be served by the marine highway service;

(ii)

the marine highway route that the service will use, which may include connection to existing or planned transportation infrastructure and intermodal facilities, key navigational factors such as available draft, channel width, bridge air draft, or lock clearance, and any foreseeable impacts on navigation or commerce, and a map of the proposed route;

(iii)

the marine highway service supporters, which may include business affiliations, private sector stakeholders, State departments of transportation, metropolitan planning organizations, municipalities, or other governmental entities (including Tribal governments), as applicable;

(iv)

the estimated volume of passengers or cargo using the service, and predicted changes in such volume during the 5-year period following the date of the application;

(v)

the need for the service;

(vi)

the definition of the success goal for the service, such as volumes of cargo or passengers moved, or contribution to environmental mitigation, safety, reduced vehicle miles traveled, or reduced maintenance and repair costs;

(vii)

the methodology for implementing the service, including a description of the proposed operational framework of the service including the origin, destination, and any intermediate stops on the route, transit times, vessel types, and service frequency; and

(viii)

any existing programs or arrangements that can be used to supplement or leverage assistance under the program; and

(B)

demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Maritime Administrator that—

(i)

the marine highway service is financially viable;

(ii)

the funds or other assistance provided under this subsection will be spent or used efficiently and effectively; and

(iii)

a market exists for the services of the proposed marine highway service, as evidenced by contracts or written statements of intent from potential customers.

(3)

Timing of grant notice

The Maritime Administrator shall post a Notice of Funding Opportunity regarding grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements under this subsection not more than 90 days after the date of enactment of the appropriations Act for the fiscal year concerned.

(4)

Grant application feedback

Following the award of grants for a particular fiscal year, the Maritime Administrator may provide feedback to applicants to help applicants improve future applications if the feedback is requested by that applicant.

(5)

Timing of grants

The Maritime Administrator shall award grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements under this subsection not later than 270 days after the date of the enactment of the appropriations Act for the fiscal year concerned.

(6)

Non-Federal share

(A)

In general

An applicant shall provide not less than 20 percent of the costs from non-Federal sources, except as provided in subparagraph (B).

(B)

Rural areas

The Maritime Administrator may increase the Federal share of service costs above 80 percent for a service located in a rural area.

(C)

Preference

In awarding grants, or entering in contracts or cooperative agreements under this subsection, the Maritime Administrator shall give a preference to marine highway services that present the most financially viable transportation services and require the lowest percentage Federal share of the costs.

(7)

Reuse of unexpended grant funds

Notwithstanding paragraph (5), amounts awarded under this subsection that are not expended by the recipient for 3 fiscal years after the award is made shall be returned to the Maritime Administrator and remain available to make grants and enter into contracts and cooperative agreements under this subsection.

(8)

Administrative costs

Not more than 3 percent of the total amount made available to carry out this subsection for any fiscal year may be used for the necessary administrative costs associated with grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements made under this subsection.

(9)

Procedural safeguards

The Maritime Administrator, in consultation with the Office of the Inspector General, shall issue guidelines to establish appropriate accounting, reporting, and review procedures to ensure that—

(A)

amounts made available to carry out this subsection are used for the purposes for which they were made available;

(B)

recipients of funds under this subsection (including through grants, contracts, or cooperative agreements) have properly accounted for all expenditures of such funds; and

(C)

any such funds that are not obligated or expended for the purposes for which they were made available are returned to the Administrator.

(10)

Conditions on provision of funds

The Maritime Administrator may not award funds an applicant under this subsection unless the Maritime Administrator determines that—

(A)

sufficient funding is available to meet the non-Federal share requirement of paragraph (6);

(B)

the marine highway service for which such funds are provided will be completed without unreasonable delay; and

(C)

the recipient of such funds has authority to implement the proposed marine highway service.

(d)

Covered functions

A covered function under this subsection is one of the following:

(1)

Promotion of marine highway transportation.

(2)

Provision of a coordinated and capable alternative to landside transportation.

(3)

Mitigation or relief of landside congestion.

(e)

Prohibited uses

Funds awarded under this section may not be used to—

(1)

raise sunken vessels, construct buildings or other physical facilities, or acquire land unless such activities are necessary for the establishment or operation of a marine highway service implemented using grant funds provided, or pursuant to a contract or cooperative entered into under, subsection (c); or

(2)

distribute resources outside the United States.

(f)

Geographic distribution

In making grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements under this section the Maritime Administrator shall take such measures so as to ensure an equitable geographic distribution of funds.

(g)

Audits and examinations

All recipients (including recipients of grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements) under this section shall maintain such records as the Maritime Administrator may require and make such records available for review and audit by the Maritime Administrator.

.

4.

Multistate, State, and regional transportation planning

Chapter 556 of title 46, United States Code, is amended by inserting after section 55602 the following:

55603.

Multistate, State, and regional transportation planning

(a)

In general

The Maritime Administrator, in consultation with the heads of other appropriate Federal departments and agencies, State and local governments, and appropriate private sector entities, may develop strategies to encourage the use of marine highway transportation for the transportation of passengers and cargo.

(b)

Strategies

If the Maritime Administrator develops the strategies described in subsection (a), the Maritime Administrator may—

(1)

assess the extent to which States and local governments include marine highway transportation and other marine transportation solutions in transportation planning;

(2)

encourage State departments of transportation to develop strategies, where appropriate, to incorporate marine highway transportation, ferries, and other marine transportation solutions for regional and interstate transport of freight and passengers in transportation planning; and

(3)

encourage groups of States and multistate transportation entities to determine how marine highway transportation can address congestion, bottlenecks, and other interstate transportation challenges.

.

5.

Research on marine highway transportation

Section 55604 of title 46, United States Code, is amended—

(1)

by redesignating paragraphs (1) through (3) as paragraphs (4) through (6), respectively; and

(2)

by inserting before paragraph (4), as redesignated by paragraph (1), the following new paragraphs:

(1)

the economic importance of marine highway transportation to the United States economy;

(2)

the importance of marine highway transportation to rural areas;

(3)

pairs of United States regions and territories, and within-region areas, that do not yet have marine highway services underway, but that could benefit from the establishment of marine highway services;

.

6.

Definitions

Section 55605 of title 46, United States Code, is amended to read as follows:

55605.

Definitions

In this chapter—

(1)

the term marine highway transportation means the carriage by a documented vessel of cargo—

(A)

that is—

(i)

contained in intermodal cargo containers and loaded by crane on the vessel;

(ii)

loaded on the vessel by means of wheeled technology;

(iii)

shipped in discrete units or packages that are handled individually, palletized, or unitized for purposes of transportation; or

(iv)

freight vehicles carried aboard commuter ferry boats; and

(B)

that is—

(i)

loaded at a port in the United States and unloaded either at another port in the United States or at a port in Canada or Mexico; or

(ii)

loaded at a port in Canada or Mexico and unloaded at a port in the United States;

(2)

the term marine highway service means a planned or contemplated new service, or expansion of an existing service, on a marine highway route, that seeks to provide new modal choices to shippers, offer more desirable services, reduce transportation costs, or provide public benefits; and

(3)

the term marine highway route means a route on commercially navigable coastal, inland, or intracoastal waters of the United States, including connections between the United States and contiguous territories, that is designated under section 55601(b).

.

7.

Clerical amendments

The analysis for chapter 556 of title 46, United States Code, is amended—

(1)

by striking the item relating to section 55601 and inserting the following:

55601. United States marine highway program.

;

(2)

by inserting after the item relating to section 55602 the following:

55603. Multistate, State, and regional transportation planning.

; and

(3)

by striking the item relating to section 55605 and inserting the following:

55605. Definitions.

.