Madison, Wis. — The U.S. Department of Transportation recently approved a request co-sponsored by five state DOTs to designate the Upper Mississippi River as a Marine Highway Corridor. Running from Lock/Mile 1 in Minneapolis to the confluence of the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers in Grafton, Ill., creation of the M-35 supports the larger effort of the five state DOTs to increase utilization of the Upper Mississippi River.
It is estimated that 5 percent of truck and 1.5 percent of rail tonnage could potentially move to the inland waterway. Benefits of moving more freight on the M-35 include less air and noise pollution and lower energy consumption. Additionally, shipping helps alleviate highway and rail congestion and enhances economic trade and development. Having the M-35 designation makes ports and domestic commercial services operating on the corridor eligible for federal program support from the Maritime Administration (MARAD), such as facilitating agreements with other federal agencies. It is estimated that continued use of M-35 will generate over $45 million in public benefits from air quality improvements and over $150 million in highway maintenance savings.
"We are excited about this designation," says Wisconsin Department of Transportation Secretary Mark Gottlieb. "It’s a positive step that will help planning for an integrated regional transportation network that better connects all modes of transportation."
The five states settled on the name M-35 because I-35, the interstate highway, is a good representation of the river’s route.