The MTS is concerned with the intermodal movement of cargo and people as well as the water and land infrastructure that make it possible. It neither is exclusively marine nor always limited to the confines of a port area. It is the modal elements and corridors that in combination comprise a significant portion of the national freight transportation system. And it is only in the last two decades when the marine transportation system was recognized for what it is. Read more.
Not all that long ago U.S. ports—principally through the public port authorities—were minor and largely absent players in the Federal transportation policy discussion. Maritime policy and programs were about vessels. In its early years the U.S. Department of Transportation was all about building the interstate highway system and tending to railroads, aviation and mass transit. Not until 1981 was the Maritime Administration moved into USDOT and even then it was concerned with vessels, not ports and harbors. By 1980 only a handful of ports had Washington representation focused on Capitol Hill and transportation policy development. That would change. Read more.
Bulk commodities are a familiar sight in coastal ports and on the substantial American river system but harder to find is containerized freight moving in the domestic trade on our inland and coastal waters. We see containerized freight and trailers ride the rails but rarely do they ride the water. There are exceptions. Container barges provide feeder service for import and export containers in very limited markets; some also carry a miniscule portion of U.S. originated and destined non-bulk cargo. We should see more of that. Read more.