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Serving Rural America

Providing Mobility and Rebuilding America's Infrastructure

The Status of our Rural Transportation Infrastructure: The ability to make clear distinctions between rural infrastructure and that which serves the Nation generally is limited by an absence of data unique to rural settings and rural transportation services. Nonetheless, based on the data that are available and partial evidence, some observations can be made. Compared to urban roadways, rural roads and highways are in relatively good condition overall. This should not obscure, however, that about one-third of rural interstates and other rural arterials are in poor or mediocre condition. Similarly, fewer rural bridges overall are deficient than is the case for the Nation as a whole, but upwards of one-fifth of all rural bridges are deficient. Progress has been made in improving highway and bridge conditions under ISTEA and should continue under TEA-21, and rural areas will continue to benefit. However, critical problems can arise in specific circumstances and locations, and the ability to deal with them needs to be in place.

There is no unequivocal data to identify rural transit or railroad infrastructure. With respect to transit, slightly fewer small buses and vans - which more often typify rural transit vehicles - are overage on average than is true for larger transit vehicles. However, the problem with respect to rural transit is more often level of service than vehicle condition. There is little comprehensive condition data for railroads serving rural areas; however, there is information suggesting growing track maintenance and condition problems with the short-line and low density railroads, which are usually associated with rural areas and small communities.

Like transit, rural aviation has significant service-level, rather than infrastructure, concerns. Indeed, existing airfield facilities have low levels of activity in smaller communities. As important freight movers, both pipelines and inland waterways provide essential service in rural areas, particularly in the case of waterways which are frequently used to transport agricultural exports. In both instances, the maintenance of the infrastructure is most often the key issue.

Aviation Programs

Airport Planning

Airport planning may be done on an areawide or individual airport basis, with input from local officials. Areawide planning includes preparation of airport system plans for states, regions and metropolitan areas. These plans identify the aviation facilities needed to meet current and future air transportation needs. Grants for airport system planning are made to planning agencies having jurisdiction over the area being studied. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) uses this information in preparing the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems.

image of passenger airplane tailfins at an airport

Airport Improvement Program

Purpose: The purpose is to promote the development of a system of airports to meet the Nation's air transportation needs.

Eligible Projects: Eligible projects include airport system and master plans; construction, expansion or rehabilitation of runways, taxiways, and aprons; items necessary for safety or security; navigational aids; on-airport roadways; limited terminal buildings development; land acquisition, and noise control; aviation-related weather reporting equipment. These funds may be used for noise compatibility planning and other projects to mitigate adverse noise and environmental impacts, including projects for small commercial service and General Aviation airports.

Applicants include owners/operators of public-use airports included in the National Plan of Integrated Airports Systems (3,344 airports of which 2,472 are general aviation airports). A public-use airport is an airport open to the public and publicly owned, or privately owned but designated by FAA as a reliever, or privately owned but having scheduled service and at least 2,500 annual enplanements.

Contacts: State Transportation Agencies and the FAA Region or District Office.

Funding: Preliminary numbers for fiscal year 2000 total $1.867 million, with 346 grants totaling $221.2 million for general aviation airports other than relievers. There was $121.7 million for 16 grants under the airport block grant program, which includes non-primary commercial service airports and relievers.

One major feature of the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century is the possibility of entitlement grant funds specifically for non-primary airports. Depending upon the total AIP amount made available, FAA will be able to calculate potential entitlement amounts for non-primary airports during each summer.

Essential Air Service

(Web site: http://www.dot.gov/policy/aviation-policy/small-community-rural-air-service/essential-air-service/)

Purpose: The Department guarantees scheduled passenger air service at many small communities throughout the United States.

Eligible Projects: The EAS program was established in 1978 as part of the Airline Deregulation Act, to ensure that communities then receiving scheduled air would continue to receive at least some minimal level of scheduled air service - defined by statute as at least two round trips a day to a major airport. The Department subsidizes commuter air carriers where necessary to ensure that such service is provided. Currently, the Department subsidizes scheduled air service in approximately 115 communities, 32 of which are in Alaska, that would otherwise receive no scheduled air service.

Contacts: U.S. DOT, Office of Aviation Analysis, (202) 366-1053.

Funding: Congress has provided $50 million for the Essential Air Service (EAS) Program in fiscal years1999 - 2001.

Surface Transportation Planning, Training, and Technical Assistance

Statewide Planning

(Web site: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/tea21/factsheets/statepln.htm)

Purpose: The statewide planning process establishes a cooperative, continuous, and comprehensive framework for making surface transportation investment decisions throughout the state and is administered jointly by the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration.

Eligible Activities: Eligible projects include statewide surface transportation planning projects.

Contacts: State Transportation Agencies.

Funding: A two percent takedown of state apportionments for the Interstate Maintenance, National Highway System (NHS), Surface Transportation Program (STP), Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement, and Bridge Rehabilitation and Replacement Programs provides funding for statewide planning. This takedown averages $481.5 million per year for FYs 1998 - 2003, for a total of $2,888.8 million. Of the amounts set aside by the takedown, 25 percent must be used for research, development, and technology transfer activities. Statewide planning also is an eligible activity for additional funding under the NHS and STP programs.

image of a crane

Additional funding for statewide planning is authorized from the Mass Transit Account of the Highway Trust Fund. The amount from the Mass Transit Account is guaranteed. FTA state transportation planning funding authorizations, however, may vary annually depending upon the amount of the non-guaranteed funds, authorized to be appropriated from the General Fund, that Congress actually appropriates.

Guaranteed transit funding for statewide planning averages $10.5 million per year, for a total of $62.9 million from FYs 1998 - 2003. If Congress appropriates all the transit authorizations for statewide surface transportation planning, the average would rise to $15.4 million per year for the 6-year period.

Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP) and Tribal Technical Assistance Program (TTAP)

(Web site: http://www.ltap.org/)

Purpose: As the primary transportation information resource for local and tribal governments, the Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP) provides access to technical assistance, training, and information on new transportation technologies. Technology transfer activities are made available through a variety of projects including services provided by its network of 57 LTAP centers. Centers are located in each state and Puerto Rico; and six Tribal Technical Assistance Program centers (TTAP) serve the needs of tribal governments. The LTAP assists local and tribal governments in developing well-trained and motivated staffs, resulting in an improved transportation network that helps sustain rural economies.

Eligible Projects: Each LTAP or TTAP Center director has the flexibility to tailor the program for local needs. Responsibilities include conducting training, delivering technical assistance, and publishing newsletters. The centers publish quarterly newsletters and maintain comprehensive mailing lists of rural, local, and tribal officials with transportation responsibilities. Centers adapt a mix of technology transfer and marketing tools to meet their localities' unique circumstances.

Contacts: LTAP centers located in each state and Puerto Rico and the TTAPs.

Funding: Funding is $51 million for FYs 1998 - 2003. Support for the centers also comes from State Departments of Transportation, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, universities, local agencies, and funds designated by state legislation.

Rural Transit Assistance Program (RTAP)

Purpose: The purpose is to provide resources for training, technical assistance, research, and related support services to support rural transit providers.

Eligible Projects: Eligible projects include activities that support rural transit providers with training and technical assistance, research, and related support services. Each state gets an annual allocation of funds for RTAP that can be used for projects such as newsletters, training courses, scholarships for training, and circuit riders. In addition, RTAP funds are used for a national project that supports the state RTAP managers, maintains a rural transit database, produces training modules, and provides a rural transit resource center. There is no local share requirement.

Contacts: State Transportation Agencies.

Funding: Funding is $30.75 million for FYs 1998 - 2003. Funds are allocated to each state by formula, but the minimum amount for a state is $65,000.

Surface Transportation Construction Programs

(Web Site: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/tea21/index.htm)

The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) substantially increased investment in core programs that are available for rural and urban areas through states and metropolitan planning organizations:

The National Highway System (NHS)

Purpose: The National Highway System (NHS) is composed of 163,000 miles of rural and urban roads that are to serve major population centers. The 46,000 mile Interstate System retains its separate identity within the NHS. The NHS program provides funding for improvements to rural and urban roads that are part of the NHS, including the Interstate System and designated connections to major intermodal terminals.

image of a two-lane road going off into the distance with a car in the foreground and two motorcycles in the background

Eligible Projects: In addition to NHS roads, including the Interstate, eligible projects were expanded by TEA-21 to include natural habitat mitigation, publicly-owned intracity and intercity bus terminals, and infrastructure-based intelligent transportation system capital improvements.

Contacts: State Transportation Agencies.

Funding: It is funded at $28.6 billion for FYs 1998 - 2003. Funds are distributed based on a formula that includes each state's lane-miles of principal arterials (excluding the Interstate), vehicle-miles traveled on those arterials, diesel fuel used on the state's highways and per capita principal arterial lane-miles.

The Interstate Maintenance Program

Purpose: The Interstate Maintenance Program provides funding for resurfacing, restoring, rehabilitating, and reconstructing (4R) most routes on the Interstate System.

Eligible Projects: TEA-21 expanded eligible projects to include reconstruction.

Contacts: State Transportation Agencies.

Funding: It is funded at $23.8 billion for FYs 1998 - 2003. Funds are distributed based on each state's lane-miles of Interstate routes open to traffic, vehicle-miles traveled on those Interstate routes, and contributions to the Highway Account of the Highway Trust Fund attributable to commercial vehicles.

The Surface Transportation Program (STP)

Purpose: The Surface Transportation Program (STP) provides flexible funding that may be used by states and localities on projects on any Federal-aid highway, including the NHS, bridge projects on any public road, transit capital projects, and public bus terminals, and facilities.

Eligible Projects: TEA-21 expanded and clarified eligible projects to include several environmental provisions, modification of sidewalks to meet the Americans with Disabilities Act, infrastructure-based intelligent transportation systems capital improvements, and privately-owned intercity bus terminals and facilities. Of the amount available to the states, the state is required to use a certain amount (based on FY 1991 Federal-aid Secondary program funding) in areas with a population of less than 5,000. This amount is about $590 million per year. A new provision, enacted in TEA-21, allows up to 15 percent of this amount to be spent on roads functionally classified as rural minor collectors.

Ten percent of the funds distributed to the states is set aside for safety construction activities (discussed under the safety programs) and another 10 percent is set aside for transportation enhancements (discussed under the community and environmental programs).

Contacts: State Transportation Agencies.

Funding: The STP is funded at $33.3 billion over the six-year period. Funds are distributed among the states based on each state's lane-miles of Federal-aid highways, total vehicle-miles traveled on those Federal-aid highways, and estimated contributions to the Highway Account of the HTF.

Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation - Off System Bridges

(Web site: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/tea21/factsheets/bridge.htm)

Purpose: The purpose is to replace or rehabilitate deficient highway bridges and to seismic retrofit bridges located on any public road.

images of cars crossing a viaduct

Eligible Projects: Eligible projects include bridges on public roads. At least 15 percent, but not more than 35 percent, of a state's apportionment must be used for public bridge projects that are not on Federal-aid roads (off-system bridges).

Contacts: State Transportation Agencies.

Funding: Funding is $20.4 billion for FYs 1998 - 2003. The 15 percent set aside requirement translates into about $470 million annually for off-system bridges for FYs 1999 - 2003, but the requirement can be waived if it is determined that this expenditure is not needed. The set aside for high-cost bridges is retained, but the set asides for timber bridges and Indian Reservation Road bridges have been eliminated.

Federal Lands Highways

(Web site: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/tea21/factsheets/fedland.htm)

Purpose: The purpose is to provide funding for more than 80,000 miles of federally-owned and public-authority owned roads and transit facilities that serve Federal lands. They include the following categories: Indian Reservation Roads, Park Roads and Parkways, Public Lands Highways (discretionary and Forest Highways), and (Wildlife) Refuge Roads.

Eligible Projects: Eligible projects include:

Funds can be used to pay 100 percent of the eligible costs.

Contacts: State Transportation Agencies.

Funding: Funding is $4,066 million for FYs 1998 - 2003.

Emergency Relief

(Web site: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/tea21/factsheets/er.htm)

Purpose: The purpose is to assist state and local governments with the cost of repairing serious damage to Federal-aid highways and roads on Federal Lands caused by natural disasters or catastrophic failures from an external cause.

image of paramedics at an accident scene

Eligible Projects: Eligible projects include only emergency repairs to restore essential highway traffic, to minimize damage or to protect the remaining facility and make permanent repairs.

Contacts: State Transportation Agencies.

Funding: Funding is $100 million annually for FYs 1998 - 2003.

Rail Programs


Rail Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing - Loan and Loan Guarantee Program

(Web site: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/tea21/factsheets/r-rrehab.htm)

Purpose: The railroad rehabilitation and improvement financing program provides credit assistance, through direct loans and loan guarantees, to public or private sponsors of intermodal and rail projects for railroad capital improvements.

image of long freight train

Eligible Projects: Eligible projects include acquisition, development, improvement or rehabilitation of intermodal or rail equipment or facilities including track, bridges, yards, buildings and shops. Eligible applicants for assistance include state or local governments, government sponsored authorities and corporations, shippers, railroads, and joint ventures including at least one railroad.

Contacts: U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Railroad Development, (202) 493-6379.

Funding: When no Federal funding is appro-priated, the Secretary is authorized to accept a cash payment from a non-Federal source to cover the estimated long-term costs to the Government of a loan or loan guarantee. The cash payment is called a credit risk premium. The aggregate unpaid principal amounts of obligations for direct loans and loan guarantees cannot exceed $3.5 billion at any one time, of which not less than $1 billion shall be available solely for other than Class 1 carriers.

Transit Programs

Financial Assistance for Other than Urbanized Areas

(Web site: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/tea21/factsheets/nonurbfg.htm)

Purpose: The purpose is to provide transit in non-urbanized areas.

Eligible Projects: Eligible projects include transit capital, operating, and project administration expenses and state administration, for rural transit. Service must be available to the general public. Intercity bus service in rural areas also is eligible. Coordination with human service transportation is encouraged. The Federal share generally is 80 percent for capital and 50 percent for operating assistance. Contract revenue from human service agencies may be used for the local match.

Contacts: State Transportation Agencies.

Funding: Funding is a total of $1.18 billion for FYs 1998 - 2003.

Grants and Loans for Special Needs of Elderly Individuals and Those with Disabilities

(Web site: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/tea21/factsheets/elderfg.htm)

Purpose: The purpose is to help provide transit capital assistance, through states, to organizations that provide specialized transportation service for elderly individuals and those with disabilities.

image of man with walker boarding a paratransit vehicleimage of man in wheelchair on a lift on a bus

Eligible Projects: Eligible projects include transit capital assistance to private nonprofit agencies, and public bodies under certain circumstances, for transportation service for the elderly and individuals with disabilities. In addition to the purchase or lease of vehicles and related equipment, capital projects also may include preventive maintenance and purchase of transportation service. The Federal Share is generally 80 percent.

Contacts: State Transportation Agencies.

Funding: Funding is a total of $456 million for FYs 1998 - 2003.

Rural Transportation Accessibility Incentive Program

(Web site: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/tea21/factsheets/rtaccess.htm)

Purpose: The purpose is to help over-the-road bus operators finance the incremental capital and training costs of complying with the Department's final rule on accessibility of over-the-road buses.

Eligible Projects: Eligible projects include the incremental costs of ADA accessibility for operators of over-the-road buses in intercity fixed-route service and other service such as local fixed route, commuter, charter and tour service. There is a competitive grant selection process.

Contacts: Federal Transit Administration Regional Offices.

Funding: Funding is $24.3 million for FYs 1999 - 2003.

Transit Capital Investment Grants and Loans Program (Bus and Bus Related)

(Web site: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/tea21/factsheets/trcap.htm)

Purpose: The purpose is to provide capital support for transit infrastructure.

Eligible Projects: Eligible projects include bus and bus-related projects, such as vehicles and maintenance facilities. The Federal share is 80 percent for all projects except those needed to comply with the Clean Air Act Amendments and the Americans with Disabilities Act, which are funded at 90 percent.

Contacts: State Transportation Agencies and local public bodies.

Funding: Funding is $3.55 billion for FYs 1998 - 2003. At least 5.5 percent of this funding ($195 million) must be spent for projects in other than urbanized areas. Historically, the percentage allocated to non-urbanized areas has been much higher than 5.5 percent.

Transit Benefits

(Web site: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/tea21/factsheets/trbenefi.htm)

The Internal Revenue Code is modified to make transit and vanpool benefits more comparable with employee parking benefits by increasing the limit on non-taxable transit and vanpool benefits from $65 to $100 per month beginning after December 31, 2001. In addition, transit and vanpool benefits may be offered in lieu of compensation payable to an employee beginning in 1998.

Special Purpose Programs

Access to Jobs

(Web site: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/tea21/factsheets/jobaccs.htm)

Purpose: The purpose is to: (1) develop transportation services designed to transport welfare recipients and low-income individuals to and from jobs, and (2) to develop transportation services for residents of urban centers and rural and suburban areas to suburban employment opportunities.

Eligible Projects: Emphasis is placed on projects that use mass transportation services. Twenty percent is to be used in non-urbanized areas. The Federal share is 50 percent, but other Federal transportation-eligible funds may be used for the local match. The program provides competitive grants to local governments and non-profit organizations to develop transportation services to connect welfare recipients and low-income persons to employment and support services.

Contacts: Local governments.

Funding: Funded at $400 million for FYs 1999 - 2003. An additional $350 million from the General Fund must be appropriated before it can be made available.

On-the-Job Training Supportive Services

(Web site: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/tea21/factsheets/ojtss.htm)

Purpose: The purpose is to provide job opportunities through training, particularly for minorities and women.

Eligible Projects: Eligible projects include such services as pre-employment counseling and basic skills improvement. States have the opportunity to reserve slots for welfare recipients.

Contacts: State Transportation Agencies.

Funding: Funding is a set aside of not more than one-half of one percent of a state's Surface Transportation Program and Bridge Program funding.

Appalachian Development Highway System

(Web sire: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/tea21/factsheets/appal.htm)

Purpose: The purpose is to build the congressionally-authorized 3,025-mile Appalachian Development Highway System - a four-lane highway. Close to 80 percent is complete or under construction, but much of the remaining 649 miles will be among the most expensive to build. The completion of the System remains a top priority for the Appalachian Regional Commission.

Eligible Projects: Eligible projects include projects on Appalachian Development Highway System. The Federal share is 80 percent.

Contacts: The 13 eligible states.

Funding: Funding is $450 million per year beginning in FY 1999, for a total of $2,250 million for FYs 1999 - 2003. Funds are apportioned among the 13 states based on the latest cost to complete estimate for the Appalachian Development Highway System.

Ferry Boats and Terminals

(Web site: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/tea21/factsheets/ferry.htm)

Purpose: The purpose is to provide support for ferry boats and ferry terminal facilities that are publicly-owned, publicly-operated, or majority publicly-owned and provide substantial public benefit.

Eligible Projects: Eligible projects include construction of ferry boats and ferry terminal facilities. The Federal share is 80 percent.

Contacts: State Transportation Agencies.

Funding: Funding is a total of $220 million for FYs 1998 - 2003, but $20 million per year is set aside for NHS ferry facilities. Ferry service that meets the definition of mass transit continues to be eligible for funding under various FTA programs, including Formula Grants for Other than Urbanized Areas.

National Historic Covered Bridge Preservation

(Web site: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/tea21/factsheets/hiscovbr.htm)

Purpose: The purpose is to preserve and rehabilitate historic covered bridges.

Eligible Projects: Eligible projects include rehabilitation or repair of historic covered bridges (those that are listed or eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places) and preservation of historic covered bridges, including installation of fire protection systems or systems to prevent vandalism and arson. Relocation of a bridge to a preservation site also is eligible. The Federal share is 80 percent.

Contacts: State Transportation Agencies.

Funding: Funding is $10 million per year for a total of $50 million from the General Fund for FYs 1999 - 2003. Funds must be appropriated before they are available.

The National Corridor Planning and Development Program

(Web site: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/tea21/factsheets/border.htm)

Purpose: The purpose of the National Corridor Planning and Development Program is coordinated planning, design, and construction of corridors of national significance, economic growth, and international or interregional trade.

Eligible Projects: Eligible projects include the 21 corridors identified in ISTEA, the 8 added in the 1995 National Highway Designation Act, and the 14 added by TEA-21, as well as other corridors based upon specified selection criteria. It can be used for:

  1. planning, coordination, design and location studies;
  2. environmental review and construction (after review of a corridor development and management plan); and
  3. a corridor management plan.

The Federal share for projects is 80 percent (sliding scale applies). Corridor planning should be coordinated with transportation planning agencies of state, metropolitan, and Federal land management, tribal government, and Mexican and Canadian agencies, as appropriate.

Contacts: States transportation agencies and metropolitan planning organizations.

Funding: Funding for corridors and borders (described below) is combined. The level is $140 million for FYs 1999 - 2003, for a total of $700 million.

The Coordinated Border Infrastructure Program

(Web site: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/tea21/factsheets/border.htm)

Purpose: The purpose of the Coordinated Border Infrastructure Program is to improve the safe movement of people and goods at or across the border between the United States and Canada and the border between the United States and Mexico.

image of freight cars

Eligible Projects: The Coordinated Border Infrastructure Program is limited to the borders. The Federal share for projects is 80 percent (sliding scale applies).

Contacts: Border states and MPOs.

Funding: Funding for corridors (described above) and borders is combined. The level is $140 million for FYs 1999 - 2003, for a total of $700 million.

Maritime Programs

(Web site: http://marad.dot.gov)

Vessel Construction and Shipyard Modernization Loan Guarantees

(Web site: http://www.marad.dot.gov/ships_shipping_landing_page/title_xi_home/title_xi_home.htm

Purpose: The primary purpose of the program is to promote the growth and modernization of the U.S. merchant marine (including the inland and domestic fleet) and U.S. Shipyards (i.e. shipyards located within the U.S.). The Program enables owners of eligible shipyards to obtain long-term financing with attractive terms.

image of large cargo ship in drydock

Eligible Projects: Vessels eligible for new construction loan guarantee assistance generally include commercial vessels such as: passenger, bulk, container, cargo, tankers, tugs, towboats, barges, dredges, oceanographic research, floating power barges, offshore oil rigs and support vessels, and floating dry-docks.

Shipyard modernization generally includes projects involving proven technology, techniques and processes to enhance the productivity and quality of shipyards, novel techniques and processes designed to improve shipbuilding and related industrial production which advances the U.S. shipbuilding state-of-the-art.

Contacts: U.S. Department of Transportation, Maritime Administration, Director, Office of Ship Financing, 400 Seventh Street, SW, Room 8122, Washington, DC 20590 (202) 366-5744.

Funding: At the close of FY 1998, vessel loan guarantees in force aggregated approximately
$2.9 billion covering approximately 731 vessels and 95 individual shipowners. Funding for projects is subject to annual appropriations pursuant to the Federal Credit Reform Act.

Vessel Construction Reserve Fund

Purpose: The Construction Reserve Fund (CRF) encourages upgrading of the American-flag fleet on our inland waterways and coastwise trades. The program allows eligible parties to defer taxation of capital gains on the sale or other disposition of a vessel if net proceeds are placed in a CRF and reinvested in a new vessel within 3 years.

image of side of ship with large rope criss-crossing in the foreground

Eligible Projects: Vessel owners eligible for the CRF include all privately-owned vessels mentioned under the loan guarantee program. Vessel operators building vessels for the U.S. foreign trade, Great Lakes non-contiguous offshore trade (e.g., between the West Coast and Hawaii) and the fisheries of the United States can use the similar Capitol Construction Fund (CCF) program instead of the CRF. Both programs are administered by the Maritime Administration.

Contacts: U.S. Department of Transportation, Maritime Administration, Director, Office of Ship Financing, 400 Seventh Street, S.W., Room 8122, Washington, D.C. 20590 (202) 366-5744.

Marine Transportation System

(Web site: http://www.mtsnac.org)

Purpose: The Nation's Marine Transportation System (MTS) is a national network of waterways, ports and their intermodal connections, vessels, vehicles and system users. The MTS includes 25,000 miles of inland and coastal waterways, with connections to 152,000 miles of railroads, links to 460,000 miles of pipelines, and direct connections to 45,000 miles of interstate highways.

The inland waterway component of the MTS links 40% of the U.S. urban population and directly serves 54% of the Nation's population. More than 640 million tons of cargo moved on the Nation's inland waterways in 1999, and over 15% or 100 million tons of that total was agricultural products. Much of that 100 million tons moved on inland river barges via the more than 1,800 river terminals located in 21 states.

Barge transportation represents one of the safest, lowest cost, most energy efficient and environmentally friendly forms of transportation available today in the United States. One 1500 ton barge carries the equivalent of 15 jumbo rail hoppers or 58 trucks, while 1-15 barge tow replaces 2 1/4 unit trains or 870 trucks. This reduced congestion and air emissions make a positive contribution to our Nation's rural transportation system and the overall quality of life throughout rural America.

Contacts: U.S. Department of Transportation, Maritime Administration, Director, Office of Ports and Domestic Shipping, 400 Seventh Street, SW, Room 7201, Washington, DC 20590. (202) 366-4357.

Updated: 03/27/2013
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