Moving grain through the U.S. river system is efficient, but capacity and productivity could be enhanced with a series of improvements of the country's waterways. The United States Soybean Federation says those changes are long overdue, so the group has teamed up with Waterways Council, Inc., in endorsing a 20-year capital investment plan to fund and mainstream construction projects for the nation's river lock and dam system.
USSF joins a number of organization urging Congress to adopt a new comprehensive, consensus-based package of recommendations to better address the needs of the entire waterways systems and provide more dollars for what it calls "long overdue infrastructure" improvements.
Proposed recommendations prioritize navigation projects across the entire sysem, improve the Corps of Engineers' project management and processes to deliver projects on time and on budget, and recommend a funding mechanism that is affordable and meets the system's needs, USSF says.
The recommendations would preserve the existing 50-50 industry/federal cost-sharing formula for construction of new locks, while providing incentives for lock construction to finish on time and on budget. A cost-share cap on all new lock construction projects would help avoid depleting Inland Waterways Trust by preventing cost overruns.
The improvements would be funded in part by a boost in the 20-cents-per-gallon fuel tank paid by most towing and barge industry participants.