Panama Canal Expansion Study and Primary Freight Network


The Maritime Administration has released Phase I of its Panama Canal Expansion Study. The Phase I preliminary report identifies the pending developments in world ocean trade routes and the global economy likely to affect U.S. and international freight corridors in light of the Panama Canal expansion. The report explains how the expansion will affect more concentrated U.S. port calls, use of foreign container transshipment ports, development of marine highways, and readiness of U.S. ports and related infrastructure, including navigational channel depth and height restrictions, terminal handling and storage capabilities, rail connectivity and capacity, and inland transportation systems. MARAD intends to release three more reports on phases of the study. Phase II of the study will provide a detailed assessment of the physical attributes of U.S. ports and inland infrastructure, evaluating port and infrastructure investment plans in preparation for the expansion. Phase III of the study will assess potential opportunities for applying investment funding towards future development of port capacity. Phase IV of the study will revisit the issues in this Phase I report, including feedback and recommendations from stakeholders.
The Federal Highway Administration has released its draft map of the “Primary Freight Network” that is required under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). MAP-21 limits the network to no more than 27,000 centerline miles of existing roadways that are most critical to the movement of freight. The Primary Freight Network, as well as Critical Rural Freight Corridors and portions of the Interstate System that are not designated as part of the Primary Freight Network, is a component of the National Freight Network that MAP-21 has directed the Department of Transportation to establish. Critical Rural Freight Corridors are designated as such by the states.