Two advocates of water transportation improvements will merge in order to "nationalize the issue of lock modernization for the Upper Mississippi River and Illinois Waterway," the groups announced Monday. Midwest Area River Coalition 2000 and Waterways Council, Inc., will begin the merger process in 2007.
"This merger is a critically important step in allowing our industry to speak with one, nationally authoritative voice on issues related to inland waterways infrastructure," says WCI Chairman Mark Knoy.
MARC 2000 will provide support for WCI's priorities, including seeking federal support for port and inland waterway improvements and maintenance.
National Corn Growers Association chief executive officer Rick Tolman says the merger will bring together two complementary forces.
"The strength of MARC 2000 has been grassroots efforts. We've had strong support from corn growers, soybean producers and wheat growers. What we're adding now is some real strong, high-powered, lobbying power that Waterways Council has," he says. "They have some more expertise in appropriations. MARC 2000 has had expertise in authorization. Put those two together and it's going to be a lot stronger entity."
MARC 2000's primary goal - new locks and improvements to the Upper Mississippi River System - will now be a primary WCI goal as well.