and shipping interests reacted positively to a Senate
subcommittees efforts to put a record $1 billion in the
federal governments fiscal 2014 budget toward the
dredging of U.S. waterways.
appropriations bill, which went through markup by the U.S.
Senate Appropriations Committees Subcommittee on Energy
and Water Development on July 25, would allow the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation "to continue
important flood control and navigation projects," said Sen.
Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.), chairwoman of the
The funds would be
drawn from the Harbor Maintenance Trust (HMT) Fund to maintain
navigation channels and related infrastructure.
Glen Nekvasil, a
spokesman for the Lake Carriers Association, which represents
U.S.-flag ships moving commodities such as iron ore and coking
coal on the Great Lakes, called the proposed draw a welcome
move. However, with the HMT boasting an annual revenue stream
of $1.6 billion, Nekvasil told AMM those paying into
it via user fees want all the moneynot just $1
billionto be spent.
Susan Monteverde, vice
president for government relations at the American Association
of Port Authorities, agreed. "While AAPA advocates for full
utilization of (HMT) collections, this is an important step
towards full use of those revenues, particularly in these
constrained fiscal times," she said in a statement.
Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) bill, which was passed
by the chamber on May 15, seeks to achieve full use of the fund
by 2020 (
amm.com, May 16).
If the appropriations
bill is passed, the Corps would receive nearly $5.3 billion for
operations and maintenance, construction, regulations and
investigations, of which $300 million would be allotted for the
Mississippi River and its tributaries.
"Look at the demands
put on our dredges during the low water last year. We moved 8
million cubic yards and kept the (Mississippi) river flowing,"
Mike Petersen, spokesman for the Corps St. Louis
District, told AMM June 26. "If the highs and lows we
see on the river draw attention to the age of the
infrastructure and its importance to the economy, that benefits
projects, however, are moving ahead without the HMT funds. The
Port of Houston, for example, a major landing point for
imported steel, will widen and deepen two channels in front of
its Barbours Cut and Bayport container terminals, spokesman
Bill Hensel said. The project will begin this year and finish
in 2014 and cost between $130 million and $150 million, said
"Because of the time
it takes to do projects like this and the time required to
secure funding, we are self-funding this through revenues," he
Houstons port usually tries to find $70 million per
year for annual maintenance dredging but "in recent years, we
have been getting back only $20 million to $30 million and that
is not enough," he added.