The U.S. Secretary of Transportation recently designated the Port of Everett as a Federal Maritime Administration Marine Highway Project, one of 25 in the nation and reportedly the only one on the West Coast.

The designation originates from America’s Marine Highway Program, which encourages the shipping of goods via rivers, bays, and other waterways in an attempt to alleviate tractor trailer traffic on the country’s highways.

“We are very happy to receive this federal designation, both for the new market opportunities it will open up, and for the relief it will provide to our already congested mainland highways,” Port of Everett CEO Les Reardanz said.

Under the designation, the Port of Everett can now receive funding from the Marine Highway Grant Program for infrastructure improvements and equipment to expand its “container on barge service” — the transportation of containers on a barge through an inland waterway — in this case, the Puget Sound.

Currently, the port does provide container on barge service, but only from the port’s Everett terminals to its Mount Baker Terminal, and only for the aerospace industry. With the new classification, the port can expand into non-aerospace barge shipping to the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma as well.

According to a statement from the port, the change could remove approximately 300 containers from the I-5 corridor each month.

“We always support opportunities to get trucks off highways,” said Don Esterbrook, deputy CEO of the Northwest Seaport Alliance. “This designation has the potential to provide value for our exporters by facilitating better turn times.”