On January 12, the Board of Directors of Waterways Council, Inc. (WCI) voted unanimously to endorse the recommendations of the industry-U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Inland Marine Transportation System Capital Investment Strategy Team for a 20-year Capital Development Plan. The plan would improve the Corps of Engineers’ project management and processes to deliver projects on time and on budget, prioritize navigation modernization projects across the entire inland waterway system, and provide a workable and affordable funding mechanism to meet the system’s future capital investment needs.
The industry/Corps team believes that these recommendations would set a future course over the near term for efficient investment in our nation’s critically important inland waterways infrastructure. In mid-December 2009, after nearly a year of working together to develop the consensus Capital Development Plan, the Inland Marine Transportation System Capital Investment Strategy Team, comprised of key Corps of Engineers personnel and members of the inland waterway industry, presented their joint recommendations to the Inland Waterways Users Board, which unanimously endorsed the proposal The Inland Waterways Users Board is a congressionally established federal advisory committee that provides advice to Congress and the Assistant Secretary of the Army-Civil Works.
Among the key recommendations is the preservation of the existing 50/50 (50% industry/50% federal) cost-sharing formula for new lock construction and large major rehabilitation projects, while adjusting the current model to provide that dam construction and smaller rehabilitation projects would be federally funded. The Team also recommended a cost-share cap on all new lock construction projects that would protect the Inland Waterways Trust Fund and industry taxpayers from funding significant cost overruns and provide an important incentive for inland waterway modernization projects to be built on time and within budget.