Short sea shipping (S3), the shipping of cargo or goods over relatively short distances or to nearby coastal ports, has many advantages over trucking and rail transport. In addition to reducing road congestion (its greatest benefit), waterborne transport often uses less fuel, costs less, produces less air pollution, is faster, and has greater space capacity as there are extensive shipping lanes. Despite its many selling points, S3 currently is hampered by a lack of adequate port infrastructure. Historically, rivers such as the Mississippi and Hudson were the primary means of cargo transport before the advent of the now-mature Interstate highway
The market is generally healthy and steadily growing, and margins are up for large specialty contractors. Further, advances in design tools and owner demand for collaboration are giving subcontractors a seat at the table early on in projects.