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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

MARAD Rural Programs and Resources

MARAD has several resources and programs that can be utilized to support rural development activities.  These programs are outlined below.

Port Planning & Investment Toolkit

MARAD's Port Planning & Investment Toolkit (toolkit) is an easy-to-read resource that covers several analytical tools and methods that can be used to plan, fund, construct, and operate port and maritime related infrastructure and services.  The toolkit is designed to: 1) improve the chances of getting port infrastructure projects into local, regional, and State transportation plans to qualify for formula funding; 2) better position port projects for Federal funding assistance through grants or formula funding; and 3) assist ports in obtaining private sector investment.  The toolkit also includes additional Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) and Marine Highway Projects modules that provide guidance for planning, assessing feasibility, and financing those types of projects.

Introduction and Users Guide

General Projects Module

Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) Module

Marine Highway Projects Module

United States Marine Highway Program

United States Marine Highway Program (Marine Highway Program) was established to expand the use of America's navigable waters for freight transportation.  Waterborne transportation is often the most efficient and sustainable method of moving large volumes of cargo.  The Marine Highway Program supports development and expansion of marine transportation services and their integration into the overall U.S. surface transportation system.  The Marine Highway network currently consists of 28 designated Marine Highway Routes that serve as extensions of the surface transportation system.  Each Marine Highway Route is eligible for designations of specific marine transportation projects that, in turn, create eligibility for Marine Highway grants to fund infrastructure improvements to expand those designated projects.  The Marine Highway program is particularly relevant to many rural areas adjacent to the Nation's inland and intracoastal waterways.

Small Shipyard Program

Small shipyards are a critical component of U.S. maritime operations and economic security, employing more than 100,000 Americans, fostering communities along and near our Nation's ports and waterways, and contributing tens of billions of dollars to our Gross Domestic Product.  MARAD's Small Shipyard Grant Program is designed to support small shipyard projects that make capital and related improvements or provide training for workers in shipbuilding, ship repair, and associated industries.  Small shipyard projects support efficiency and economic competitiveness of the domestic shipbuilding industry and many small shipyards are located in rural areas.  Small shipyard grants are capped at 75 percent of a project's estimated cost and are available only to facilities with fewer than 1,200 production employees.

Port Infrastructure Development Program

The Port Infrastructure Development Program (PIDP) is a discretionary grant program administered by MARAD.  Project funds are awarded on a competitive basis for projects that improve the safety, efficiency, or reliability of the movement of goods into, out of, around, or within a port.  Funding for the PIDP is typically appropriated on a year to year basis.  Additional information on the PIDP, including webinars, prior year awardees, and other resources can be found on the MARAD website at the link provided above.


USDOT's Rural Opportunities to Use Transportation for Economic Success (ROUTES) initiative is designed to address disparities in rural transportation infrastructure.  ROUTES provides resources and technical assistance for rural stakeholders to help address unique rural infrastructure challenges and establish strong rural transportation networks that are essential to meeting our Nation's safety and economic competitiveness goals.

The Maritime Administration (MARAD) supports the ROUTES initiative and is committed to providing technical  assistance and other resources to assist rural port and maritime stakeholders with infrastructure development and economic development.

MARAD also supports the implementation of the recently enacted Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) that provides for notable investments in America's transportation infrastructure.  More information about the BIL can be found on the web at

Gateway Offices

MARAD provides direct port and maritime transportation outreach through 10 regional Gateway Offices located throughout the Nation.  Gateway Office Directors work closely with headquarters staff, State and local authorities, congressional representatives at the local and district level, and a broad range of port, shipper, and carrier stakeholders to cooperate on projects, identify Federal and State funding, and work on environmental and community challenges at and around ports and related maritime infrastructure.

The Gateway Offices are MARAD's day-to-day presence throughout the Marine Transportation System and are critical to the viability and effectiveness of many MARAD and USDOT programs. Additional information on the MARAD Gateway Offices can be found here.