May 13, 2011

Waterways Council’s newsletter, Capitol Currents

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The heavy rains came in March and intensified in April, and just as happened prior to the Great Flood of 1927, the storm system lingered over the Upper Midwest – already deluged with heavy snowmelt from northern plains – flooding rivers and streams, driving thousands of residents from their homes, and interrupting barge traffic on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers and their tributaries.

“We are currently experiencing the largest flood in the [Mississippi River] watershed and in the history of the Mississippi River and Tributaries (MR&T) project,” which dates back to 1928, said Maj. Gen. Michael J. Walsh, commander of the Corps of Engineers’ Mississippi Valley Division and also president-designee of the Mississippi River Commission (MRC).

“As the highest crest in history works its way downstream, the last line of defense in protecting life and livelihood is the proper operation of the MR&T project,” he said, noting that no mainline levee built to MRC specifications has ever failed.

High water, rising perilously close to the top of some levees, caused officials to close about a dozen locks on the Ohio, Upper Mississippi, McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River navigation system, Green, and Kaskaskia Rivers. At several river bridges, floodways and city flood walls, the Coast Guard set up “safety zones” with navigation restrictions.

As the river crest slowly moves downstream, many of the locks have now reopened. The river was expected to crest yesterday at Memphis, tomorrow at Helena, next Monday at Greenville, May 19 at Vicksburg, May 21 at Natchez, the next day at Baton Rouge, and May 23 at New Orleans.

Because of the high water, the Corps has suspended work on a 15-mile section of the New Orleans hurricane and storm damage risk-reduction system paralleling Mississippi River levees – meaning that it won’t meet its June 1 deadline for 100-year protection. Officials said the system would still be finished “by the peak of the hurricane season.”

High water on the Mississippi carries tons of sediment which clogs the shipping channel at river crossings and the vital Southwest Pass. Four dredges are now working to keep it open, but more may be needed. Some officials said the increased dredging needs might require as much as another $60 million – necessitating emergency supplemental appropriations.

To save historic Cairo, Ill., and take pressure off rain-weakened levees, the Corps activated the nearby Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway last week, opening a two-mile gap in the Mississippi River levee on the Missouri side of the river, sending flood waters gushing across the 130,000-acre floodway, but lowering the dangerously high river level.

The floodway, operated only once before, is one of several sites where flood flows can be diverted. Others include the Bonnet Carre spillway above New Orleans, opened on Monday, sending river waters into Lake Pontchartrain, and the upstream Morganza Floodway and Old River Control Structure, funneling water into the Atchafalaya Basin.

Final FY 2011 Budget Supports Civil Works

With less than half the current fiscal year remaining, Congress in mid-April passed the final in a series of “continuing resolutions” to keep Federal agencies operating for the rest of FY 2011. The Corps of Engineers’ civil works program didn’t fare as badly as some had predicted – receiving just $72 million less than the President’s FY 2011 request but $236 million more than the FY 2012 request.

Investigations, construction (not including recisions), O&M, and MR&T accounts received slightly more than the President had sought in his FY 2011 budget. For details, see the chart at left.

Because many navigation channels have silted up from widespread flooding and other damages have been caused in several southern states, particularly Alabama, from hundreds of devastating tornadoes, it is generally anticipated that Congress may provide funds for necessary dredging and infrastructure repairs in a supplemental appropriations bill later this year.

Waterways Trust Fund Needs Recapitalization

At two recent Senate hearings, several lawmakers urged the speedy recapitalization of the Inland Waterways Trust Fund. “We really do need some detailed planning” regarding the trust fund, Sen. John Boozman (Arkansas) told an Environment and Public Works Subcommittee. “I think [the Administration] is going to have to take the lead; it is something that needs to be done.”

“There was a plan that the commercial users of the inland waterways worked on... with the Administration... to increase the fuel tax on themselves, on their own fuel, to put more money into the trust fund so locks... could be done,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander (Tennessee) at an Appropriations Subcommittee hearing. “Does the Administration have its own plan to enhance the revenues in the trust fund and when will we see the plan if there is one?”

“We are working with the Inland Waterways Users Board and the industry to develop a plan to increase the funding in the trust fund as well as looking at ways to equitably charge the users in the future,” responded Jo-Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works). The waterways industry would welcome such consultations, but there have been none since the proposed “capital development plan” was formulated some 18 months ago.

Should Navigators Pay for River Recreation?

“There is a need to increase the funding available for the Inland Waterways Trust Fund,” Sen. Tom Harkin (Iowa) told the appropriations panel. “I am worried,” he said, “about the ability to move ahead” on pending improvements on the Upper Mississippi River and Illinois Waterway modernization – projects which were authorized in 2007.

“I was pleased,” Sen. Harkin said, “with the Users Board’s proposal [developed in collaboration with the Corps of Engineers] which recognized that need but also called for more efficient processes regarding navigation construction and reworking the definition of what is considered navigation.”

The lock-and-dam system shouldn’t all be charged to navigation users, he said. The impoundments provide diverse recreational opportunities, including boating, fishing, and bird-watching activities. “It shouldn’t all be counted as navigation,” he said; “it should be counted as navigation and recreation.”

In critical condition. Two Oklahoma locks and dams on the McClellan- Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System are on the Corps’ watch list – Chouteau L&D 17 near Muskogee and Newt Graham L&D 18 near Inola. Both locks were dewatered for intensive maintenance in 2009 but now require work on their lock motor control centers.

Sen. Alexander Wants Administration Proposal

Sen. Alexander pressed Ms. Darcy on when the Administration’s proposal would be ready for “us to see.” Ms. Darcy: “Hopefully soon.” Sen. Alexander: “A few months or a few years or what?” Ms. Darcy: “Less than a few years and more than a few months.”

“There is a certain urgency to this,” Sen. Alexander responded, “when you have the users of the waterways who are agreeable to contributing extra dollars to create projects that all of us believe are important for new jobs. I think the sooner the better.”

Other sources have indicated that the Administration does not intend to have its proposal ready until the President’s FY 2013 budget is finalized and submitted to Congress in February 2012.

Water weeds. Budget cuts have eliminated the only Federal research program for aquatic weed control. For 40-plus years, the Corps of Engineers has developed innovative ways to manage pesky aquatic plants.

Federal Budget Includes Increase in User Charges

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) at the White House may be working on a new waterway user charge proposal. In recent weeks, officials have dropped hints that OMB might be considering proposals requiring commercial navigation to make much greater contributions to the Inland Waterways Trust Fund.

One possible approach could be some form of ton-mile levy on waterborne commerce to replace the current fuel tax.

At this time, fuel taxes finance the Federal highway program, but the White House recently said it was not considering a vehicle-miles-traveled fee to take the place of the tax on gasoline and diesel fuel for the highway program.

The President’s FY 2012 budget request details the additional Federal receipts anticipated to result from pending proposals, including one to “reform inland waterways funding.” Budget tables show new receipts offsetting inland navigation costs by $196 million in FY 2013 and by a total of $917 million over the next decade.

Sen. Baucus Presses for Funding Proposal

If the Administration doesn’t make specific proposals for recapitalizing the Inland Waterways Trust Fund, “I suggest not much is going to happen,” Sen. Max Baucus (Montana) told Ms. Darcy at the Environment and Public Works Subcommittee hearing. “The President must lead. The Administration is not leading.”

“I am very concerned,” he added. “The Administration had better come up with something pretty fast... You make vague proposals but nothing to back [them] up. So where is the beef?”

The Administration hasn’t told us how it proposes to finance inland improvements, Sen. Baucus said. “I see words, not deeds... I am just urging you, in your deliberations, to fight hard to get proposals.... You had better come up with something quickly, as it is going to get worse. Time is running out.”

Lawmakers Don’t Want Dredging Fund Diverted

As she did in the House, Asst. Army Secy. Darcy caught flak from Senators on the Administration’s budget initiative to tap the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) for other agencies’ navigation-related but unspecified uses. “No decisions have been made yet on what additional costs would be proposed to be paid from the HMTF,” she testified.

“I just want to lay a warning,” said Sen. Mary Landrieu (Louisiana) “that there is a growing number of Senators on both sides of the aisle who want the taxes paid by [port users] to be used for the purposes for which they thought they were being taxed, which is dredging and keeping ports open.”

Sen. Landrieu was referring to legislation – the Realize America’s Maritime Promise or RAMP Act – to ensure that amounts credited to the trust fund are used for harbor maintenance. The legislation is sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Carl Levin (Michigan), with 18 co-sponsors, and in the House by Congr. Charles W. Boustany, Jr. (Louisiana), with 86 co-sponsors.

Sen. Feinstein Says ‘No’ to Trust Fund Diversion

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (California), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, was more blunt. “My concern is that you will eat up the trust fund with other activities,” she told Ms. Darcy. “The dredging gets done partially, and we have some real impediment to trade and commerce in our country.”

“If you are concerned about depletion of the [HMTF] balance, that can be managed through the appropriations process,” Ms. Darcy told Sen. Feinstein. “It seems to me,” the Senator said, “that keeping these ports viable is really an important mission, and it in itself absorbs all the money.”

After conferring with the subcommittee’s ranking minority member, Sen. Alexander, Sen. Feinstein said, “I think we will have some very strong language in our bill... that money should not be taken from this trust fund for other uses... and I want to say to the Administration that I will do everything I can to prevent that trust fund from being eroded with other activities.”

Trust fund status. During the first six months of this fiscal year, the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund took in $773.2 million in revenue, including interest, and transferred $12.5 million to Federal agencies, leaving a trust fund surplus of $6.4 billion. The President’s FY 2012 budget taps the trust fund for only $758.2 million while widespread dredging needs are neglected.

Ports and Harbors Decry Lack of Dredging Funds

The Great Lakes Maritime Task Force reported that the President’s dredging budget for FY 2012 “will not spent $1 on 13 Michigan ports that collectively [handle each year] more than 31 million tons of cargo, despite the fact that those tons were taxed and the revenue deposited in the HMTF that bankrolls the government’s dredging program.”

Traffic at Connecticut’s three deep-water ports is declining, and officials say silting-in channels are driving away the largest ships. Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) complained at a Senate hearing that the Kennebec River, which has an authorized depth of 27 feet, is now only 19.7 feet deep – too shallow for a Navy warship to leave the Bath Iron Works to sail down the river on its way to Norfolk for commissioning this fall.

Meanwhile, China has announced plans to spend $1.7 billion to deepen the lower Yangtze River from Shanghai to Nanjing, a distance of some 175 miles, to accommodate 50,000-ton vessels. In the U.S., Ohio Gov. John Kasich has proposed leasing the Ohio Turnpike to China, producing $1 million for infrastructure projects – possibly including, he said, the dredging of Toledo harbor.

Senators Challenge Use of Benefit/Cost Criteria

The current moratorium on Congressional earmarks cropped up repeatedly during recent hearings on Capitol Hill. “How are we able to advance those projects” like small harbors which “are critical issues for us?” asked Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska). Ms. Darcy: “We look at benefits to the nation... project by project, not state by state.” Sen. Murkowski: “We have got ourselves in a bit of a mess.”

Twenty-six states including Alaska receive O&M funding in the FY 2012 budget, she said, but no construction money. Sen. Murkowski blamed benefit/ cost ratios below the required 2.5-to-1.0 ratio, which she said will “never allow many of these states to ever get into the funding stream.... In terms of what [these projects] contribute to the regional economy, they are extraordinarily important.”

Sen. Landrieu also faulted funding decisions based on the benefit/cost criteria, noting that it short-changed Gulf Coast “energy ports” which import natural gas. It’s weightless, she said, and therefore doesn’t count when adding up port tonnages to compute their national economic benefit.

Court Affirms EPA Veto of Yazoo Pumps Project

Federal District Judge Sharion R. Aycock recently dismissed a lawsuit challenging EPA’s veto of a $220 million flood control project in the Mississippi Delta, but supporters have appealed the ruling. Authorized in 1941, the project would have used huge pumps to drain backwater from farmland and forests in the Yazoo River basin during times of high water.

During the last 14 years, Congress has appropriated about $58 million for the pumps, but OMB has cancelled unobligated balances in the account and Congress has “rescinded” $22 million. Another $7 million was transferred to a proposed Holt Collier Interpretative Center at Rolling Fork, Miss., which is now “on hold.”

Mr. Collier was Pres. Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt’s guide when he came to the area on a 1902 bear hunt. After dogs chased a bear all night, hunters in the President’s party caught the exhausted bear, tied it to a tree, and summoned the President. He refused to shoot the bear. An accompanying illustrator turned the scene into a cartoon for his newspaper, which gave birth to the still-popular toy Teddy bear.

EPA Stakes Out Role in Federal Water Policy

In a little-noticed section of the FY 2012 Federal budget, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) takes credit for improving “the way Federal dollars are spent and programs work.” Among other things, EPA claims it “coordinates Federal water policy” through outreach and cooperation, benefitting “numerous actions the Administration has taken to improve national water policy...”

EPA is also involved, the budget document stated, in revising the principles and guidelines for evaluating proposed water resources projects as well as “promoting and funding non-structural and environmentally restorative water projects.”

Another EPA initiative: “Developing a national environmental market infrastructure, supporting regional market innovation, and fostering collaboration around market-based conservation within USDA and across the Federal government.”

Anniversary. Almost exactly 100 years ago, voters approved the creation of the Harris County-Houston Ship Channel Navigation District, which led to the construction of the Houston Ship Channel. It proved to be an economic boon to Houston, which quickly overtook Galveston in population and went on to become the nation’s fourth largest city. w

Current Flood Compared to ‘Rising Tide’ of 1927

The Army Corps of Engineers is fighting the largest flood in the 83-year history of the MR&T project to protect the lives and livelihoods of the Mississippi Valley’s 4 million citizens. Few of them remember the devastation of the 1927 flood which took the lives of up to 500 people, left 500,000 homeless, and destroyed more than 41,000 buildings – a calamity vividly described in John M. Barry’s best-seller, “Rising Tide.”

In addition to the Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway near Cairo, Ill., which was activated on May 2, the Corps this week opened the Bonnet Carre Spillway which empties into Lake Pontchartrain near New Orleans, and may soon utilize the Morganza Spillway north of Baton Rouge to channel water off the Mississippi into the Atchafalaya River basin.

Floods typically wash away top soil and carry it down-river to low-lying areas – the process which over centuries created the rich Mississippi Delta. These same sediments also clog river ports and shipping channels, particularly the Southwest Pass at the river’s mouth, a vital passage for ocean-going ships.

Missouri River Study Loses Appropriations

In its final continuing resolution for FY 2011, Congress did not include additional funding for the $25 million Missouri River “authorized purposes” study.

About $7.6 million has already been spent on field work in 2009 and 2010. At a recent Senate hearing, Sen. Max Baucus (Montana) tried to persuade Asst. Army Secy. Darcy to keep the study going, but she said it was never in the President’s budget.

“It is a waste of money to stop it midway,” Sen. Baucus said. “It is my understanding that this study could very well result in different priorities for the Corps on this system because a study would show that it... makes more sense to spend dollars in some areas rather than other areas.” In the Senator’s view, upstream recreation may now be more significant than downstream navigation.

Gen. Bostick Nominated as Engineers’ Next Chief

The President has nominated Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Bostick, an Army Deputy Chief of Staff for the last 15 months, as the next Chief of Engineers/Commanding General of the Army Corps of Engineers. The U.S. Senate must confirm him for the position, a process which could take several months.

If confirmed, he will be the second African-American to head the Corps (the first was Lt. Gen. Joe N. Ballard in 1996-2000), succeeding Lt. Gen. Robert L. Van Antwerp, Chief of Engineers since May 2007, who stepped down last week. Until his successor takes over, Maj. Gen. Merdith W. B. (Bo) Temple, the Deputy Chief of Engineers, will be the Acting Chief.

Gen. Bostick has served almost 33 years in the Corps of Engineers, but none on the civil works side. Other than military assignments, he has been a West Point instructor and assistant professor, a White House Fellow, and executive officer (1993-94) to the then Chief of Engineers, Lt. Gen. Arthur E. Williams.

It’s Transition Time at Corps Headquarters

The retirement of “Gen. Van,” as he is known at Corps headquarters, was marked last week at a dinner attended by some 600 present and former Corps employees and officials. The general’s wife Paula thanked the wives of Corps officers for their work in providing emotional support for the families of soldiers on active duty. Their son Jeff, a major in the U.S. Army, was master of ceremonies.

Gen. and Mrs. Van Antwerp have three sons, who have all served or are serving Army tours, and two daughters. “Retirement is not a word in my vocabulary,” Gen. Van told the dinner audience before announcing that he planned to join the Flippen Group, which is based in College Station, Tex.

It was founded by Flip Flippen, author of the “Flip Side” and other motivational books, who was in the audience. The group, which bills itself as the largest educational trainer in North America, has corporate, sports, education, and government branches. Its personal development sessions attract as many as 200,000 participants annually, the firm says.

Inland Trust Fund Has $76 Million Balance

During the first six months of the current fiscal year – from last October 1 through March 31 – the Inland Waterways Trust Fund had revenues of $37.9 million, including fuel taxes and a meager $38,000 in interest. At this pace, the trust fund could take in approximately $75.9 million during all of FY 2011.

The U.S. Treasury’s latest preliminary report shows outstanding transfer authority available to the Corps of Engineers as of March 31 (resulting from previous appropriations acts) as $15.7 million, leaving an unobligated trust fund balance of $76.2 million – an increase of $38 million over the unobligated balance on last September 30.

This balance, obviously higher than anticipated, could result in additional allocations in the remainder of the current fiscal year or FY 2012 budget for on-going lock-and-dam modernization projects, which were limited in the President’s recent budget request to $154 million – since only $77 million in matching funds for the entire fiscal year were deemed to be available. Through March, Treasury said just $4.5 million had been transferred to the Corps as reimbursement for inland projects.

Greenville Golf Tourney Scheduled Next Month

The 30th annual Jesse Brent/Merrick Jones Memorial Golf Tournament will be held on June 20 at the Greenville (Miss.) Golf and Country Club. This year’s event will honor the life of O. Nelson Jones of Amherst Madison, Inc., who died last July at age 52.

The tournament will be in the format of a six-man scramble with two tee times: 8:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Donation opportunities: $50 each for patrons, including buffet lunch at 11:30 a.m. and cocktails and hors d’oeuvres at 5:30 p.m.; $150 each for golfers, including 18 holes of golf with many sports celebrities as well as buffet lunch; $125 for tee-box sponsors; and $2,000 (or more) for benefactors.

The 2010 tourney raised more than $50,000 for the Sallie Astor Burdine Breast Cancer Foundation, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, the Seamen’s Church Institute, and National Waterways Foundation.

The tournament was launched after the death of Jesse E. Brent (1912-82) of Brent Towing Co., who the Waterways Journal had named “river person of the century.” The tourney name was changed later to honor another industry leader, J. Merrick Jones, Jr., (1935-2001) of Canal Barge Co. To reserve a place at this year’s tournament, call Jessica Brent at (662) 378-4142 or e-mail her

Foreign Trade Remains Strong at Coastal Ports

U.S. ports continue to report gains in commerce crossing their docks. In 2010, container volume at the Port of New Orleans increased 31 percent as compared to 2009 while Louisiana officials said the state’s worldwide exports last year totaled $41.3 billion in value, the second best year ever and 26.8 percent above the 2009 level.

At Beaumont, cargo tonnage rose 23 percent last year, with a near-record total of 3.5 million tons. In February, Savannah terminals handled 16.3 percent more containers and 51.6 percent more breakbulk shipments than in the same month last year. At nearby Charleston, container volume was up by 7 percent between February 2009 and February 2010.

March figures are just in from the Port of Houston, with 22 percent more ship arrivals, 16 percent more container volume, and steel tonnage up by a whopping 112 percent over the same month last year. Port officials attributed some of the increased container traffic to the arrival during March of two 8,000-TEU ships, the largest ever to call at a Gulf port.

In the Mainstream...

In September, Jerry A. Bridges, executive port director of the Virginia Port Authority, will become chairman of the American Assn. of Port Authorities... Maureen A. Healey, formerly director of the Personal Watercraft Industry Assn., has replaced Rosemary M. Lynch as executive director of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway Assn., a position she had held for the last 11 years...

Sean M. Duffy, Sr., of Metairie, La., former president/CEO of the Gulf States Maritime Assn. and its predecessor organizations, is now executive vice president-maritime advocate of the Mississippi River Maritime Assn. and the new coordinator of the Big River Coalition...

Rear Adm. Roy A. Nash, special assistant to the deputy commandant-operations in Coast Guard headquarters, will assume command of the New Orleans-based Eighth Coast Guard District on June 1, succeeding Rear Adm. Mary E. Landry, who is retiring. Last year, Adm. Nash was the deputy Federal on-scene coordinator for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill...

Blank River Services, Inc., of Elizabeth, Pa., has named a towboat after David W. Kreutzer, who was general manager of Consolidation Coal Co.’s river division before he retired in 1999...

The President has nominated Maj. Gen. Michael J. Walsh, commander of the Corps’ Mississippi Valley Division, to be a member and president of the Mississippi River Commission (MRC) and Rear Adm. Jonathan W. Bailey, director of NOAA’s office of marine and aviation operations, to be a member of the seven-member commission. Note: Legislation pending in the U.S. Senate would remove the requirement for Senate confirmation for some 3,000 Federal positions, including those on the 132-year-old MRC...

Gen. Walsh has been serving as the MRC’s president-designee since he was appointed to his current position in February 2008. Within a few months, however, he expects to be re-assigned to a new position in Washington. Taking his place as commander of the Mississippi Valley Division will be Maj. Gen. John W. Peabody, commander of the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division, who will then become the MRC’s next president-designee....

Gary A. Loew, chief of the Corps’ programs integration division since 2005, is retiring. His successor, Mark L. Mazzanti, currently programs director of the Mississippi Valley Division, plans to move to Washington by month’s end to transition into his new job...

The Senate has confirmed the President’s nomination of Rebecca F. Dye, a former counsel of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, to serve another four-year term on the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) and also confirmed, for his first FMC term, Mario S. Cordero, a member and former president of the Long Beach (Calif.) Board of Harbor Commissioners...

Richard D. Steinke, executive director of the Port of Long Beach for the last 14 years, plans to retire at the end of September...

The President has nominated Richard C. Howorth, a former two-term mayor of Oxford, Miss., as a member of the Tennessee Valley Authority, succeeding Howard A. Thrailkill of Huntsville, Ala., whose term expired. Oxford operates an electric utility, which is a TVA customer...

John J. Melancon, Jr., has been elected to succeed his late father on the Greater Lafourche Port Commission. It’s the governing authority of Port Fourchon, a busy port near Grand Isle on Louisiana’s Gulf Coast south of New Orleans serving the oil service industry...

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has named Ananth K. Prasad as secretary of the state’s DOT. A former assistant DOT secretary for engineering and operations, he will oversee some 7,100 employees and an annual budget of $6.9 million...

Col. Stephen L. Hill, USA-Ret., former District Engineer at Pittsburgh and more recently the Corps of Engineers’ Chief of Staff, is now the deputy program manager for the World Trade Center construction project in New York City... Howard P. Stickley, formerly regional business director at the North Atlantic Division, is now with the Transatlantic Division...


“Existing transportation programs do not adequately address goods movement... More than 90 percent of the nation’s busiest seaports require regular maintenance dredging... and critical dredging needs have been neglected. Only a fraction of user fees [paid by port users] are being spent, resulting in increased costs for waterborne transportation, higher prices to consumers, and reduced competitiveness of U.S. exports in the global marketplace...”

– Kurt J. Nagle, president, American Assn. of Port Authorities, at U.S. Grains Council marketing conference, New Orleans, February 8, 2011.

“Developing countries are seeing the opportunity that upgrading their infrastructure can bring, and many are putting higher priority on their infrastructure than we are... Transportation inefficiency devalues grain and causes bottlenecks that back up all the way to the farm gate... We need an attitude adjustment about transportation...”

– Ken A. Eriksen, senior vice president-transportation, Informa Economics, Inc., at the same U.S. Grains Council conference.

“Delaying investment will not make transportation problems go away. Instead, conditions and performance will get worse. Materials, labor, and land will get more expensive and our businesses will be less competitive... Americans are already paying dearly for inferior transportation – through lost productivity, wasted fuel and, tragically, more crashes...”

– Thomas J. Donohue, president/CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, before Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, February 16, 2011.

In Memoriam...

Capt. William D. Bowell, 90, of St. Paul, founder of the Padelford Packet Boat Co....

John A. McWilliam, 81, who was chief executive of the Toledo-Lucas County (Ohio) Port Authority (1972-89)...

Richard J. Goodman, 79, a former vice president for government affairs for Continental Grain Co. (1976-93)...

Thomas E. Erickson, 55, of Paducah, a founding member and executive vice president of Marquette Transportation Co.... To their families and many friends, we extend our condolences.

Cornel Martin Leaving as WCI Chief Executive

It was announced last week that Cornel J. Martin, president and CEO of the Waterways Council, Inc., since 2008, will be leaving our organization at the end of June to pursue other interests. He thanked WCI members “for having given me the opportunity to return to Washington, D.C., to make a difference and a positive contribution to an industry that I have been a part of my entire life...”

WCI’s chairman, Richard R. (Rick) Calhoun of Cargill, Inc., praised Mr. Martin as “instrumental in the development of a savvy media and publicity campaign, in the creation of the coalition of stakeholders and partners for the capital development plan, and in the execution of several successful WCI symposia and seminars.”

Mr. Martin previously worked on the American Waterways Operators’ staff, serving as vice president of AWO’s Southern region; as a senior executive of the New Orleans-based Delta Queen Steamboat Co.; and as chairman of a family business serving the shipbuilding industry.

‘Marine Highways’ Need Federal Help to Succeed

“It has become increasingly evident that the current system of freight transportation in the U.S. will be hard-pressed to meet the nation’s future transportation needs,” concluded a new U.S. Maritime Administration report. It wants to shift more freight, particularly containers, to “marine highways,” our network of coastal and inland waterways.

“Shippers who have access to more than one competitive long-distance modal service may experience lower shipping rates than do shippers who have access to only one suitable long-distance mode,” the report said. But the waterway mode also has a down-side:

“Many of the important public benefits of water transportation – congestion reduction, environmental sustainability, and system resiliency – cannot be captured in the form of higher revenues or lower costs...,” the report said. Its conclusion: “Government action is required to help overcome these challenges and assist the expansion of marine highway services...”

Largest container ports. The world’s busiest are all in Asia, according to Containerisation International Yearbook. Based on TEU throughput in 2009, the yearbook reported the five leading ports in this order:

Singapore, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Shenzhen (about 25 miles north of Hong Kong), and Pusan, South Korea. Top U.S. ports: Los Angeles (16th), Long Beach (18th), and New York/New Jersey (20th).

On the Horizon...

May 12-13, Warrior-Tombigbee Waterway Assn., Point Clear, Ala.... May 18, Upper Monongahela River Assn., Morgantown...

May 23-27, International Assn. of Ports and Harbors, Busan, Korea... June 9, Seamen’s Church Institute’s Silver Bell Awards dinner (honoring Adm. Thad W. Allen, USCG-Ret., former Coast Guard commandant), New York... June 15-17, Texas Water Conservation Assn., Galveston...

June 18-19, Great Rivers Towboat Festival, Grafton, Ill.... June 20, Jesse Brent/Merrick Jones Memorial Golf Tournament (honoring the late O. Nelson Jones of Amherst Madison, Inc.), Greenville, Miss.... July 10-13, Transportation Research Board’s joint summer meeting, Boston...

Aug. 10-12, Gulf Intracoastal Canal Assn., New Orleans... Aug. 30-Sept. 2, Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Opportunities Conference, Point Clear, Ala.... Sept. 11-14, National Coal Transportation Assn., Denver...

Sept. 11-15, AAPA annual meeting, Seattle... Sept. 13-16, SmartRivers Conference, New Orleans... Sept. 19-24, World Canals Conference, Groningen, The Netherlands...

Sept. 19-21, National Waterways Conference, Fort Worth...Oct. 5-7, AWO fall convention, New York... Oct. 12-14, Pacific Northwest Waterways Assn., Portland... Oct. 19-21, WCI Annual Meeting and Waterways Symposium, Omni William Penn Hotel, Pittsburgh... Oct. 18-21, International Propeller Club of U.S., La Havre, France...

Nov. 11-16, NITL annual meeting and exposition, Atlanta... Nov. 17-19, Atlantic Intracoastal Waterways Assn., Wrightsville Beach, N.C.... Nov. 30-Dec. 1, International WorkBoat Show, New Orleans... Dec. 8, Seamen’s Church Institute’s River Bell Awards luncheon, Paducah...

Dec. 8-10, Mississippi Valley Flood Control Assn., New Orleans... Oct. 22-25, 2012, Dredging 2012 (PIANC/ASCE/ COPRI), San Diego...


Capitol Currents is published by:

Waterways Council, Inc. 801 North Quincy Street

Suite 200

Arlington, VA 22203

(703) 373-2261

Cornel J. Martin, Publisher

Harry N. Cook, Editor

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