New Marine Highway Project Designation increases funding opportunities for domestic trade between The Northwest Seaport Alliance, Alaska and Hawaii

TOTE in NWSA harbor

Seattle and Tacoma have long been hubs for domestic shipping between U.S. mainland and Alaska. The new Northwest Connect Project Designation will increase funding opportunities that support domestic trade between Alaska, Hawaii, and The Northwest Seaport Alliance.

Seattle + Tacoma -  On Tuesday, April 19, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) announced additions to America’ Marine Highway Program (AMHP) including Northwest Connect: Critical Lifelines between Alaska, Hawaii, and Washington. This new designation on the M-5 Marine Highway Route will further support the transport of freight to and from Alaska, Hawaii, and Washington.

Last year, The Northwest Seaport Alliance and the Port of Alaska teamed-up to apply for the AMHP Project Designation. The announcement of the Northwest Connect designation provides new opportunities for federal funding for ports and port customers in Alaska, Washington and Hawaii.

Grant requests for AMHP funding are limited to organizations on a Marine Highway Route with a Project Designation. The recent focus on supply chain resiliency has led to the AMHP receiving record levels of investment by the federal government. Almost $40 million in grant funding is available for the program this year, with funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the FY 2022 Appropriations Act.

“Seattle and Tacoma have long been a critical link in supporting freight movement between Washington and Alaska. This project designation will enable the NWSA and our domestic shipping operators such as TOTE, Matson, and Lynden to access infrastructure funding that will support increased trade and job opportunities in our gateway,” stated Don Meyer, Port of Tacoma Commission President and NWSA 2022 Co-Chair.

“The importance of resilient maritime infrastructure and a strong partnership between the Northwest Seaport Alliance and the Port of Alaska is not lost on us,” says Steve Ribuffo, Director of the Port of Alaska.  “As important as the survival of this supply chain is, it’s clear to us that what is good for one of us is good for the other.  The creation of Northwest Connect only strengthens those bonds of cooperation between us.”    

“By increasing critical infrastructure for cargo movement between Alaska and Hawaii, we are expanding domestic trade opportunities while also reducing air emissions. Utilizing vessels to move goods instead of trucks or airplanes helps eliminate damaging air emissions that would otherwise impact the Pacific Northwest,” stated Ryan Calkins, Port of Seattle Commission President and NWSA 2022 Co-Chair.

The AMHP was established in 2014 to increase the use of U.S. navigable waterways to serve as an efficient mode of transportation that helps to relieve landside congestion and increase the productivity of our nation’s surface transportation system. The marine highway system includes 54 designated routes which have specific access to federal funding opportunities that support the utilization of these routes.