U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield (KY-01), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Energy and Power, with Rep. Jerry Costello (D-IL-12), a senior member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, today filed the Waterways Are Vital for the Economy, Energy, Efficiency, and Environment Act of 2012 (WAVE4 Act) with bipartisan co-sponsorship. This Act will ensure safe, dependable, cost-effective, and environmentally sustainable navigation on our nation's inland waterway system.
"Efficient and reliable transportation of goods on our inland waterways is essential to economic development, job creation, and remaining competitive in the global marketplace," said Rep. Whitfield. "Our aging infrastructure jeopardizes efficient waterborne commerce and highlights the need for the WAVE4 Act that will implement a comprehensive plan to improve project management and put in place an objective investment strategy that will prioritize our infrastructure needs."
Rep. Costello, lead Democratic co-sponsor, said, "This legislation represents a comprehensive effort among key stakeholders to more efficiently use the resources dedicated to improving our inland waterway system. Importantly, industry has committed to paying more to meet the maintenance challenges we face, and addressing how projects are prioritized should be a part of this process. We must continue the dialogue on how we accomplish these goals -- our future economic growth depends on it."
Other co-sponsors include Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL-04), Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-MO-03), Rep. John Duncan (R-TN-02), Rep. Tim Johnson (R-IL-15), and Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL-07).
"The people in Missouri understand the importance of our inland waterways," said Rep. Carnahan. "Billions of dollars in trade and transport are conducted every year on the river, making businesses more efficient and keeping vehicles off our roads. Inland shipping is a vital part of our transportation infrastructure and must be properly maintained for our economy to continue growing. I support this good start towards ensuring that crucial maintenance is completed that allows for full utilization of our rivers."
Rep. Johnson said, "As a member of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, I am proud to cosponsor Mr. Whitfield's bill as it addresses the critical issues of getting Illinois' corn, soybeans, and coal to other markets in the United States and around the world. Without this crucial waterway system, Illinois exports would not be able to export the goods that drive our economy with billions of dollars in revenue. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to bring this important legislation through committee, for consideration on the Floor of the House of Representatives."
The WAVE4 Act requires, among other things, the use of objective criteria for the prioritization of essential construction and major rehabilitation projects and protects against cost overruns.
Additionally, it revises the current cost sharing structure for inland waterways projects, reforms the Army Corps of Engineers internal project delivery process, and calls for additional contributions from the waterways industry to pay for these vital infrastructure investments.
With 12,000 miles of commercially navigable channels, and 240 lock sites, the inland waterways system moves commerce to and from 38 states, serves industrial and agricultural centers and facilitates imports and exports at gateway ports.
Every year, roughly 624 million tons of cargo transits the inland waterways, valued at nearly $70 billion.