U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield, (KY-01), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power, today announced that he has introduced bipartisan legislation co-sponsored by Rep. Dan Lipinski (D -- Illinois) known as the Waterways are Vital for the Economy, Energy, Efficiency, and Environment Act" (WAVE 4). This bill would ensure that America's inland waterway system can meet the current and future demands of the 21st century economy. WAVE 4 is also co-sponsored by Representatives Spencer Bachus (R -- Alabama), Bill Cassidy (R -- Louisiana), and Pete Olson (R -- Texas).
"Efficient and reliable transportation of goods on our inland waterways is essential to economic development, job creation, and remaining competitive in the global marketplace," stated 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."
"A healthy, vibrant inland waterways system is vital to the movement of goods and materials in this country and essential to connecting our business and industry to the global marketplace. An efficient, well-functioning waterways system also improves quality of life for our communities by keeping trucks off the road and reducing congestion on our highways," said Rep. Lipinski. "This bill ensures that all of the key stakeholders are working together to use our resources wisely and prioritize the projects that will benefit the waterways industry and the economy as a whole. I am happy to take leadership in helping to introduce this bill that will help develop a comprehensive plan to strengthen the inland waterways system and make it a viable shipping option for future generations."
"You cannot have a first-world economy with a third-world infrastructure," stated Bachus. "Our inland waterways make up an important part of our transportation system and the act will keep this vital network in sound operating condition."
"Louisiana's ports are doorways to the world that create thousands of jobs and economic opportunity. As such our locks and dams must be maintained and upgraded to promote commerce and prevent flooding," stated Rep. Cassidy M.D. "This bill will ensure America's waterway infrastructure is strengthened and improved. It will also guarantee that the building costs and regulations facing local stakeholders are reasonable and that projects which prevent flooding and save lives are prioritized. It deserves the support of Congress and the President."
"Our nation must address the aging infrastructure of the inland waterways system if we want to compete in the global marketplace of the 21st century," stated Rep. Pete Olson. "The Texas portion of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway stretches for 423 miles and handles up to 90 million tons of freight annually. This bill will make improvements to the funding and management of inland waterways projects, and it will address the large backlog of construction and maintenance needs. WAVE 4 is important to the economic growth of the Texas and the country as a whole."
Whitfield believes that it is not possible to have reliable transportation for the 21st century on the foundation of early 20th century construction. Many locks and dams around the country are as much as 80 years old. Furthermore, a vast majority of these locks are operating well beyond their intended lifespan and experiencing an alarming increase in scheduled and emergency closures as a result of their conditions. WAVE 4 will ensure the availability and reliability of the locks and dams which comprise the nation's inland waterways.
WAVE 4 proposes a comprehensive, long-term inland waterway system modernization plan based on collaborative recommendations of a team of inland navigation private sector stakeholders and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Without significant changes to the current dam and lock system, only six inland waterways projects will be constructed, while other long-awaiting projects continue deteriorating.
Specifically, WAVE 4 will:
Prioritize the completion of navigation projects across the entire system;
Improve the Corps of Engineers' project management and processes to deliver projects on time and on budget;
Reform project cost allocations; and
Recommend an affordable and sustainable mechanism to address the backlog of needed construction and rehabilitation.