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Senate passes water infrastructure bill

Keywords: Tags  Water Resources Development Act, WRDA, steel industry, American Iron and Steel Institute, Thomas Gibson, American Association of Port Authorities, Kurt Nagle, Jim Walker Samuel Frizell

NEW YORK — A waterways infrastructure bill easily passed the Senate May 15, a development that steel interests say will benefit shipping by improving navigation.

The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which passed by a vote of 83-14, authorizes increased funding for harbor maintenance, waterway improvements, flood-risk management, environmental restoration, dredging, and water supply and wastewater projects.

The bill would provide more money to dredge the Mississippi River and to improve river dams and barge shipping.

"The steel industry applauds these provisions, as we rely heavily on seaports and inland waterways to move raw materials necessary for steelmaking and also to move finished steel products to market," Thomas Gibson, chief executive officer and president of the American Iron and Steel Institute, said in a statement.

The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) said that the bill would expedite shipping, particularly in Port of Boston and Georgia’s Port of Savannah, for example.

"The immediate effect is that you have increased funds available for maintenance dredging, which will improve conditions for shipping," Jim Walker, director of navigation policy and legislation at the AAPA, told AMM.

"Increased investments are needed to better maintain and improve the transportation infrastructure on our three coasts and the Great Lakes, linking America to the global marketplace," AAPA president and chief executive officer Kurt Nagle said in a statement.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that new projects authorized by the bill will cost more than $12 billion over the next decade.

The bill now heads to the House of Representatives.

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