Page 16: of Marine News Magazine (September 2015)

Inland Waterways

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INSIGHTS 1052, there was a commitment from the House and Sen-

What sort of role do you see for inland barge opera- tors for future intermodal / container movements? Is ate to consider a WRDA bill every Congress. With such a this a niche ‘play’ or, will it develop to ease the bur- high turnover rate in Congress, the best thing that WCI den off highways and rail? More importantly, could & can do is to continue to help Members and staff to under- should it be a viable source of freight commerce on stand the importance of our nation’s rivers to the transpor- the inland rivers? Where can WCI help in that regard?

tation supply chain. Continuing to educate Congress and

Container on barge is an area that some in the industry staff who were not here during the last WRDA/WRRDA have tested and are continuing to test in certain markets. is critically important.

While it seems an easy prospect from the outside, there are issues of necessary equipment and port access for this kind

What important issue or talking point (if any) have we of service, so testing will continue and it could certainly missed in this dialogue? Why is it important? What is become a future niche market that could, indeed, ease con- being done about it?

gestion on other modes.

With shrinking budgets, the Corps and the federal gov- ernment need to look toward multi-purpose programs.

WCI supports increasing the budget for inland water-

One such example is the Navigation Ecosystem Sustain- ways Operations and Maintenance (O&M) by around ability Program (NESP). Authorized in WRDA 2007 but $300 million. What kind of chance do we have to not yet under construction, NESP is an unprecedented, make that happen? And, hasn’t the increased fuel tax multi-purpose authority allowing the U.S. Army Corps already solved much of that shortfall?

I believe that there is a very good chance that we can of Engineers to integrate management of the Upper Mis- see an increase in the O&M budget by $300 million. The sissippi River System’s infrastructure with ecosystem im- fact is that the money is in the Harbor Maintenance Trust provements. The program includes construction of seven

Fund but not being spent on its intended purposes; instead modern 1,200-foot navigation locks at the most congest- the money is funding other programs within the Energy ed lock locations (Locks and Dams 20, 21, 22, 24 and and Water Appropriations bill. The increase in the fuel tax 25 on the Upper Mississippi River, and La Grange and

Peoria Locks on the Illinois Waterway). Congress further is intended to fund capital investment, not O&M. authorized smaller-scale navigation ef

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