The inland waterways industry looks ahead to 2013 with optimism. The inland system’s locks and dams are aging rapidly, and this critically important infrastructure requires capitalization. Momentum for positive change is moving forward in Congress.
We await action on a Water Resources Development Act in the Senate that could offer a long-term funding plan that modernizes waterways infrastructure.
We are encouraged by a proposal offered by Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., called The American Waterworks Act. This proposal follows many original Inland Waterways Capital Development Plan recommendations. It addresses inland waterways’ and ports’ needs, and will create American jobs, enable export growth and fuel the economic engine the waterways are considered to be within the transportation supply chain.
In the House, Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., introduced “WAVE 4: Waterways Are Vital for the Economy, Energy, Efficiency, and Environment Act of 2012, which incorporates the elements of the Capital Development Plan. It has 26 co-sponsors.
America’s waterways are a precious resource and the envy of the world because of the natural “water highway” the system provides for commerce. Modern lock and dam infrastructure is critical to U.S. competitiveness in the world market, to environmental protection, to energy efficiency, to the sustainment of well-paying American jobs and to traffic congestion relief. Inland waterways transportation is a key component of the intermodal transportation network and is essential to our nation’s economy, environment and quality of life.