Page 61: of Maritime Reporter Magazine (May 1992)
Corps Of Engineers Asked
To Fund More Renovations
On Inland Waterways
The U.S. Army Corps of Engi- neers is facing a major effort from the inland waterway industry to have more funding from its operat- ing budget diverted to low-cost lock renovations that would significantly reduce barge traffic delays.
Within two years of being ap- proved, Corps money would begin flowing into new construction projects that would relieve serious backups along the Upper Missis- sippi and Illinois rivers.
The definition of what constitutes major rehabilitation will decide the fate of the waterway industry's plan, said federal and commercial offi- cials. Under present requirements, the waterways trust fund, financed through fuel taxes on towboats, must supply half the money for major re- habilitation work. However, new rules proposed last year by the
President's budget office direct the
Corps to put even smaller projects within the bounds of fund financing.
Donald Sweeney, the Corps' chief economist in its St. Louis of- fice, stated that the trust fund is already under so much financial strain that no new projects for the improvement of barge capacity can be considered until 2010.
The plan from the waterways trust fund users board would change the definition for projects requiring trust fund financing to only those construction projects that last over two years and result in extending lock life by 25 years. All other smaller scope work would fall under the sole funding responsibility of the Corps of Engineers.
While the Corps may eventually agree to reclassify its funding guide- lines to match those of the waterway industry, it would continue to op- pose any work that would increase river traffic capacity before it is able to complete renovations to selected locks and dams.
The Corps would also be forced to ask Congress for increased opera- tional budget funding in order to cover the additional costs of the new work, which could run into many millions of dollars.
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USS Mississippi (CGN 40)
Official U.S. NAVY photograph
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May, 1992 Circle 219 on Reader Service Card 57