ASCE Report Makes Strong Case for Investment in Inland Waterways
The American Society of Civil Engineers made a strong case for big investment in inland waterways when it released its yearly assessment of the state of U.S. infrastructure. The early-March assessment provides a wake-up call for policymakers by shining a light on the immense need for greater investment in improvements and maintenance of our national infrastructure. ASCE graded overall U.S. infrastructure a C-minus; inland waterways received a D-minus grade.
Of all the 17 infrastructure categories ASCE rated, inland waterways received one of the lowest scores – a D-plus. Many ILTA terminal members partner closely with barge companies to keep goods moving in and out of their facilities, contributing to local economies and interstate commerce. Some ILTA companies like Canal Barge are both terminal operators and barge operators. These companies have a special appreciation for the importance of our national waterways network.
ASCE suggested several ways to raise the inland waterways grade, including:
- Giving the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers the authority to manage a project from start to finish and ensure sufficient and timely appropriations from Congress to avoid costly stop-and-start of construction that has traditionally taken place.
- Developing and implementing a standardized measurement for delays on the system.
- Funding waterways projects at the authorized levels and doing so consistently, passing a Water Resources Development Act on a two-year cycle.
- Ensuring that full use of the Inland Waterways Trust Fund continues to be appropriated. ·
- Increasing the amount spent on operations and maintenance of the inland waterways each year by providing more robust appropriations and consider a prioritization method that can more strategically direct limited funds to needy projects.
- Modifying the cost sharing for future spending on construction and major rehabilitation projects to require 25% of the project cost to be paid for by the IWTF and the remaining 75% to be derived from the General Fund.
ILTA shares these goals and intends to urge Congress to provide adequate funding to inland waterways and all the modes of transportation that allow movement of the essential products to and from terminals.