Editor Martyn Wingrove asks whether billions of dollars of federal funds and private investment will be spent to upgrade vital US waterway infrastructure
US president Donald Trump has promised hundreds of billions of dollars of investment in North American ageing transportation infrastructure including its waterways
He wants to modernise the US’ ageing inland waterways because they important highways for dry bulk, freight and oil products in the nation. He has promised federal funds up to 200 billion dollars and hopes private investors can find another 800 billion.
But this comes with a poison pill as his administration wants to levy a new tax on towage companies to help pay for these investments. We question whether these funds will ever appear and whether they will be targeted on inland waterways, in comparison to say new rail and roads.
We also question whether existing upgrade projects, such as the delayed Olmsted Locks and Dam project on the Ohio River, can be completed without further delay or expenditure. This project has already cost US$3 billion dollars.
This investment is needed as more than 60 per cent of US grain exports are transported by barge on inland waterways, according to the Waterways Council.
The council also estimates that 22 per cent of domestic petroleum and 20 per cent of the coal used to generate electricity travels on the US’ 12,000 miles of inland waterways.
Thus, it is vital that the investment President Trump promises is allocated to upgrading these waterways. Otherwise there will be further deterioration of the existing infrastructure and loss of revenue for tug operators.
The future is bright, but only if Trump can deliver.