Marine Link
Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Senate Environment & Public Works Committee Passes WRDA 2024

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

May 24, 2024

File photo: Lock and Dam 25 (Photo: USACE)

File photo: Lock and Dam 25 (Photo: USACE)

The U.S. Senate Environment & Public Works (EPW) Committee marked up and passed its Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2024, in a move seen as a major win for inland waterways infrastructure.

Several outcomes in Section 109 of the Senate WRDA 2024 bill provide the ability to accelerate project completion, setting up a far more efficient future for the navigation construction program, according to Waterways Council, Inc. (WCI), which advocates for a modern, efficient and well-maintained inland waterways.

The Senate WRDA 2024 bill permanently adjusts the inland waterways cost-share for construction and major rehabilitation projects to 75% general revenues/25% Inland Waterways Trust Fund (IWTF) (from 65%/35%). It also provides 100% full Federal funding for projects funded in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Projects that will be 100% federally funded through construction are:

  • Kentucky Lock
  • Three Rivers
  • J. O’Brien Major Rehabilitation
  • Lock and Dam 25 (Note: Under a 25% cost-share requirement, L/D 25 could pursue efficient funding and be on pace to receive all funding by FY30 instead of receiving smaller portions over a longer period stretching through FY37. The Corps estimates efficient funding of L/D 25 could save an estimated $720 million).
  • Montgomery Lock (Note: A 25% cost-share allows for a path forward to fully fund Montgomery Lock by FY28).
  • Emsworth
  • McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (MKARNS) 12-foot deepening

The 75%/25% cost-share change could also allow sufficient funding in the IWTF to accommodate the Brazos River Westside gate, and the next mega priority lock replacement project at LaGrange could potentially receive all of its estimated funding needs by FY34.

With annual IWTF revenues of $125 million, this 25% cost-share match allows for an estimated $1.4 billion in additional project funding availability over a 10-year period. This equates to an annual program level of $500 million, $143 million more than what can be provided through a 35% cost-share each fiscal year ($357 million).

With project capabilities for major lock projects exceeding $200 million each year, this cost-share change allows for an annual program that can efficiently fund more than one major navigation modernization project at a time.

One inland waterways Chief’s Report was authorized in the Senate WRDA 2024 bill, Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, Brazoria and Matagorda Counties at a cost of $314,221,000 ($204,244,000 from Federal treasury and $109,977,000 from the IWTF).

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is developing its version of the WRDA bill with plans to release text and hold a markup in June.