The inland waterways industry wants Congress to make this change as it prepares the language in the 2020 Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act.
According to Innis, LafargeHolcim, a global supplier of concrete and aggregates, relies on the U.S. inland waterways system to support 30 facilities. In 2018, the company transported 9.2 million tons material over the nation’s rivers.
“By conforming the cost share with the Inland Waterways Trust Fund to the same formula that was approved for deep-draft ports in WRDA 2016, this committee’s action would allow for the inland navigation capital program to remain operating at or above a $400 million level achieved since the cost-share change at Olmsted and accelerate project delivery on that portfolio of critical inland waterways Pprojects,” said Innis, who also serves as a member of the Inland Waterways Users Board.
A special provision in the 2014 Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) allowed for a one-off cost share of a 25% IWTF-75% federal funding split over the last six years to speed up the Olmsted Locks and Dam revitalization program. The Inland Waterways Users Board noted to Congress in May that this allowed for an estimated $600 million in economic benefit to be already achieved for the nation.
“With this cost-sharing change, there will be sufficient funds in the IWTF to continue full and efficient funding for the ongoing inland waterways projects already under construction and to allow consideration of additional important and time-sensitive projects,” the Inland Waterways User Board wrote in a letter to the leadership of both the House and Senate on May 10.