Maritime law hinders salt delivery in New Jersey

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New Jersey’s Department of Transportation, like other state and local agencies in the northern United States this winter, faced a road salt shortage and a maritime law hindered a resolution of the problem.

The federal government was blocking a shipment of salt from Maine because the 1920 Maritime Act requires that shipments between domestic ports be delivered by U.S.-flagged vessels.

State transportation commissioner James Simpson prompted the federal action when he said in a radio interview that a foreign-flagged ship could deliver 40,000 tons of salt from the port within two days, but waiting for a domestic-flagged ship would take a month.

Federal officials halted the shipment and declined a waiver, but now a U.S.-flagged ship has been lined up to deliver more than 20,000 tons of salt to the Garden State, according to a report by NewJersey.com.

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