Public and private sector organizations make investments and implement policies and programs in the Great Lake-St.Lawrence maritime transportation system to improve and sustain their use. Federal money is spent to dredge harbors and channels, break up ice, and maintain critical locks and other infrastructure, ensuring the maritime system functions smoothly. States and provinces develop waterfronts for greater access to maritime shipping and boost economic development. Private organizations use resources to improve their cargo capacity and efficiency through ship and onshore investments.

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Port Level Investments on the Maritime Transportation System

This section provides a brief overview of some of the recent public and private investments made at Maritime Transportation System (MTS) ports. This list is not comprehensive; instead it illustrates the wide range of investments that can be made to help increase trade and traffic, as well as the variety of funding sources that ports are using to fund these investments. Greater detail on state, provincial, and federal funding programs is provided at on the port infrastructure strategy page.

State and Provincial Maritime Plans

In addition to funding programs, some states and provinces have chosen to engage in strategic planning to identify maritime needs and issues, and guide investment in their systems. Some Maritime Transportation System (MTS) states and provinces created their own maritime-specific funding programs, which are often intended to help ports pay for infrastructure upgrades, or improve connections to highways and railroads. Currently, three states or provinces have maritime-specific plans or strategies, and all states and provinces also have more generalized freight transportation plans.

State and Provincial Port Infrastructure Investment Programs

Some Maritime Transportation System (MTS) states and created their own maritime-specific funding programs, which are often intended to help ports pay for infrastructure upgrades, or improve connections to highways and railroads. This investment page provides examples of unique state and provincial programs that are explicitly intended to support maritime investments, or which have supported maritime investments in the past.

Canada National Trade Corridors Fund (NTCF)

The National Trade Corridors Fund (NTCF) is part of the Government of Canada’s Transportation and Trade Corridors Initiative. This initiative was created in 2017 for the purpose of spending $10.1 billion (CAD) on transportation investments by 2028. The NTCF was allocated $2 billion (CAD) of that amount, and this $2 billion (CAD) in funding is being used to invest in strategic projects that:

U.S. Port Infrastructure Development Program

Congress created the Port Infrastructure Development Program in 2010, with the goal of supporting improvements to port infrastructure. The program is administered by the Maritime Administration (MARAD), and provides planning, stakeholder engagement, operational and capital financing, and project management assistance to ports and port stakeholders.

U.S. Harbor Maintenance Tax and Fund

The US Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT) was created by the Water Resources Development Act of 1986. The HMT is a means for the US government to raise funds to pay for the dredging and maintenance costs of US coastal and Great Lakes ports, and specifically the dredging of harbor channels to meet required shipping standards. Other maintenance costs paid for by the HMT include repair of breakwaters, and the operation of the Soo Locks.