Our main priority for 2011 is the push to include the Inland Waterways Capital Development Plan in a potential Water Resources Development Act in the 112th Congress. This comprehensive recommendations package was formulated by an industry and Corps of Engineers working group to improve U.S. inland navigation system reliability over the next 20 years.
If adopted, the plan will better address needs of the entire inland navigation system and provide more funding for critically needed infrastructure improvements. It proposes: a national prioritized list of navigation projects based on objective criteria such as economic benefit and project condition; a path to more efficiently completing 25 navigation projects in six years, rather than just six projects under the current broken business model; better use of taxpayer dollars, with projects completed on time and on budget; standardization and design centers of expertise; and to create jobs and allows for increasing exports to market.
With the massive political shift after the mid-term elections, another Waterways Council priority will be to educate new members of Congress about the value of the nation’s inland waterways.
Barge transportation is the most fuel efficient, environmentally sound way to move bulk commodities. A 15-barge tow is equal to 1,050 trucks or 216 railcars. Barges can move one ton of cargo 576 miles on one gallon of fuel. Also, moving products by water produces far fewer carbon dioxide emissions for each ton of cargo compared to transporting that same cargo by truck or rail.
Investment in waterways infrastructure is critical to our competitiveness in world markets, to jobs, to our economy, to our environment and to reducing congestion on our highways and in our communities.