Inland Marine Transportation Investment: It Comes Down to Priorities.

By Dennis Wilmsmeyer, President of Inland Rivers, Ports and Terminals, Inc
Friday, November 15, 2013

Can you imagine the public outcry if our country’s major interstates were not repaved or patched for 50, 60 or 70 years, and at the same time, regulations were introduced that encouraged wildlife to nest and repopulate on the road surface, because the animals once roamed there? Surface transportation by trucks and automobiles would come to a standstill. Travel, as we know it, would cease. There would be an immediate push to find another way of moving goods, and an entire system, a true asset to our country, would be wasted. And yet, that is exactly what is happening today to our inland river transportation system.

There are 12,000 miles of navigable rivers in the United States, and each day we are hearing stories that some of these rivers, or river miles, are becoming extinct to river navigation. Locks and dams that were built in the 1940s and ‘50s are not being maintained because federal priorities are elsewhere.  Dredging, necessary to keep shipping channels and terminals open, has met with the federal budget axe. Since the system is not maintained, it has become less reliable. Since it is less reliable, it becomes less used. And since it is used less, the U.S. Corps of Engineers (USCAE) decides that it no longer makes sense to fully operate the lock system on a 24-hour basis, thereby bringing about the demise of transportation on the rivers; our nation’s greatest asset. At the same time, millions of dollars are being spent to re-stock the river system with fish species or birds, in an effort to convert the rivers to a “pre-navigation” era, as if to say that the river navigation destroyed the very fabric of river life. It is the law of self-fulfilling prophecy. If you believe something long enough, eventually it will come true through your actions.

While I believe that it is important to ensure that the river eco-system is intact and maintained for our grandchildren’s grandchildren, I believe it is also important to find balance with river navigation. Barge transportation is the most cost-effective and environmentally-friendly form of transportation. The movement of goods by barge produces less carbon monoxide and other pollutants, is safer, and uses less fuel than either rail or truck movements. Yet, barge transportation, and maybe more appropriately, inland river navigation, seems to be taking it on the chin by EPA and Natural Resource departments. 

If we suppose just for a moment that our country needs to continue to move goods; that exports and imports of commodities are important to us, and that American consumers still want to buy goods, then why is it so difficult to imagine that many of those goods can and should be moved by barges?  Shouldn’t it be those who are most concerned about the environment yelling the loudest that barges should be used instead of trucks or trains? Shouldn’t we as a country realize that our priorities have gotten so out of whack that we have pushed the most cost-effective form of transportation to the bottom of the heap?

We only need to look at other countries, such as China, to see their massive investments in their waterway system and their unprecedented shift to container traffic on their rivers, to wonder whether we are still the teacher, or if we have become the student. And if we are the student, we have been the one not listening or paying attention in class.

Without a doubt, it is time for all river-focused groups (ecology and navigation) to lock arms and work together to set priorities for our country’s rivers. Without this approach, the pendulum of the clock swings too far in one direction, to the detriment of the other.


(As published in the November 2013 edition of Marine News - www.marinelink.com)
 

Maritime Today


The Maritime Industry's original and most viewed E-News Service

Maritime Reporter May 2016 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Navigation

Danelec Bags Multiple VDR Orders in Middle East

Danelec Marine, along with distribution partner Elcome International, is to supply Danelec DM100 Voyage Data Recorders (VDRs) for 14 ships in the Middle East.   The

Maritime Future Summit: Digital Shipping

Autonomous ships, smart on-board systems: At the Maritime Future Summit on September 5, industry leaders will discuss the future of shipping. For the first time

Navico Makes its Commercial Push

Marine electronics group Navico, a literal ‘house of brands’ for the recreational, sail, power and commercial marine markets, is making a strong push in the commercial sector with its Simrad brand.

Finance

Lower Large Dry Bulk Rates drag Baltic Index

The Baltic Exchange's main sea freight index, tracking rates for ships carrying dry bulk commodities, fell on Thursday dragged down by lower demand for larger vessel segments.

EGAS: Egypt to tender for 10 LNG Cargoes

Egypt will tender next week to import 10 cargoes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) for delivery in July and August, an official from the state gas company, EGAS, said on Thursday.

Asia Dry Bulk-Capesize Rates Could Climb

More coal cargoes, rising oil prices could support rates. Freight rates for large capesize dry cargo ships on key Asian routes are likely to rise next week on

Environmental

Dubai Partners with WOC on Ocean Sustainable Dwevelopment

The Dubai Council on Marine and Maritime Industries (DCMMI) and the World Ocean Council (WOC) have agreed to collaborate on ocean sustainable development and corporate ocean responsibility.

Design Concept: Zero Emissions Cargo Ship

The designs for a multi access zero emissions cargo ship will be unveiled at the 5th Natural Propulsion Seminar in Wageningen, Netherlands, on Tuesday, May 24. The

First Cruise Company Fined under Australia’s New Fuel Rules

Australia’s NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has fined Carnival PLC $15,000 after one of its P&O Cruises ships, the Pacific Jewel, breached new low sulfur fuel regulations in Sydney Harbour.

Barges

HUMMEL LNG Hybrid Barge Begins Second Season

For over one year the HUMMEL has been contributing to improved air quality at the port of Hamburg. Becker Marine Systems’ LNG Hybrid Barge will also be supplying

The MN 100: Apply Now

The August 2016 edition of MarineNews, the leading voice in the North American workboat market, will feature 100 leaders and innovators, including workboat owners and operators,

Bouchard: New Logo and Website

Bouchard Transportation Co., Inc., an independently-owned oceangoing petroleum barge company, has introduced a new corporate logo and announced plans to launch

Intermodal

New Connections for France, Port of Rotterdam

With the launch of a new rail shuttle and inland shipping link, connections between Northern France and the port of Rotterdam are now better than ever. Five times a week,

CMA CGM Proceeds with NOL Takeover after China Okay

CMA CGM, the world's third-largest container shipping firm, is to go ahead with its planned acquisition of Singapore's Neptune Orient Lines (NOL) after receiving regulatory clearance from China,

Singapore Exchange in Talks to buy Baltic Exchange

Baltic Exchange privately owned by 380 shareholders. The Singapore Exchange (SGX) is in exclusive talks to buy London's Baltic Exchange, which has been at the

Logistics

Lower Large Dry Bulk Rates drag Baltic Index

The Baltic Exchange's main sea freight index, tracking rates for ships carrying dry bulk commodities, fell on Thursday dragged down by lower demand for larger vessel segments.

EGAS: Egypt to tender for 10 LNG Cargoes

Egypt will tender next week to import 10 cargoes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) for delivery in July and August, an official from the state gas company, EGAS, said on Thursday.

Asia Dry Bulk-Capesize Rates Could Climb

More coal cargoes, rising oil prices could support rates. Freight rates for large capesize dry cargo ships on key Asian routes are likely to rise next week on

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Standards Naval Architecture Offshore Oil Pipelines Port Authority Ship Electronics Ship Repair Ship Simulators Sonar
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.1120 sec (9 req/sec)