Congressman Russ Carnahan, Senior Member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, spoke out today regarding the importance of repair and improvements for the structures controlling America's inland waterways.
"When business and civic leaders talk about transportation issues there is often a lot of talk about trains, planes and automobiles," Rep. Carnahan said in his opening statement prepared for delivery at Wednesday's Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment. "One subject that gets very little mention is the importance of the waterway system to the nation economy, and to the cities along our great rivers such as St. Louis. Millions of tons of commodities move through the Port of Metropolitan St. Louis each year. America's inland waterway system is an essential economic driver and is a key factor to creating jobs and keeping our economy moving. The Port of Metropolitan St. Louis is at the center of that water system."
Rep. Carnahan continued, noting that 54% of inland water structures are more than 50 years old, 34 locks are over 80 years old, and that a single failure could cripple goods moving along the river. Assuming that no new locks are built within the next 20 years, by 2020, another 93 existing locks will be obsolete, rendering more than 8 out of every 10 locks now in service outdated.
To address this issue, Rep. Carnahan is an original cosponsor of H.R. 4242, Waterways are Vital for the Economy, Energy, Efficiency, and Environment (WAVE4) Act.
"I believe that we need to start working towards a solution to the infrastructure challenges along our inland waterways, and I believe this piece of legislations represents a great start to that debate," said Rep. Carnahan. "The industry has come together and volunteered to raise their own taxes to pay for their infrastructure, and I believe we must utilize these funds to upgrade our structures all along the river."