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Unformatted text preview: Inland Waterways,
This paper examines the vital role the inland waterways play in U.S. domestic and foreign commerce.
The inland waterway system allows the competitive movement of huge quantities of liquid and
dry bulk cargoes between deep water ports and distant points of production or consumption in the
nation's interior. The federal government has taken the lead to develop and maintain our inland
waterways infrastructure through a combination of dredging, river training works, and navigation
locks and dams. But nearly half of these locks and dams now exceed their 50-year design lives.
At the same time traffic has continued to grow and there is a need for larger replacement
locks at many locations. Further, as the system ages the need for maintenance increases. But
federal budget constraints have postponed critical maintenance. The queue of new or replacement
lock projects awaiting construction continues to grow and schedules of many projects now underway
are being stretched, increasing congestion and reducing project benefits. This paper focuses on
concerns for the physical integrity and the decline in funding of a critical intermodal transportation link
for commercial traffic between U.S. coastal ports and inland origins and destinations. 14 | P a g e Inland Waterways Affirmative BDL Harms – Infrastructure Failure Leads to Food Price Spikes [___] [___] A failure of waterway infrastructure would lead to a global spike in food prices
Dick Lee, Communications consultant, 2008
(“Lock failure on rivers would have a major impact on corn and soybean producers”,
Barges provide a lower cost mode of transportation for a wide range of commodities. By
shipping the same 2005 commodity volumes to the same destinations would cost an additional $580
million by rail or $1.6 billion by truck, according to figures in the study. A 90 -day lock failure from
October through December of 2005 on either river would have had a $219 million to $585 million
impact on corn and soybean producers alone, depending on rail rate behavior, the study indicates.
These figures are based on no rail rate increase at the low end of losses to a 25% increase in rail
rates at the high end. The study considers only the impact on corn and soybean movement on the
upper Mississippi and Illinois rivers which accounts for about 44% of total volume transported
annually through the two locks. "We looked at everything that is crossing these two locks, its origins
and destinations, and did a simple cost analysis to see how much more it would cost to ship by train
or truck," Meyer said. "Both locks in the study were built in 1939 and are maintained by th e U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers." Alternative transportation rates assumptions may understate the change in cost
for other transportation moves, Meyer said. The overall economic impact of a lock failure goes
beyond added immediate c...
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- Spring '14