USA: Congressman Underscores Importance of Open Harbors to Jobs and Economy
Yesterday, Congressman Fred Upton held a press conference at local Dock 63 to discuss his recent work on the dredging issue in southwest Michigan. Due to severe shoaling, the St. Joseph harbor was closed to commercial traffic which sent a number of ships away during the month of December and replacing them with heavy trucks transporting cement and graveling from as far away as Muskegon.
Upton worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, area dock owners, and community leaders to obtain emergency funding to dredge the St. Joseph harbor.
“Our Great Lakes harbors are essential to jobs and economic growth in southwest Michigan,” stated Upton. “Area harbors need to remain open to commercial traffic as countless jobs and businesses are dependent upon them. Without emergency assistance from the Corps, the economic consequences of a shutdown harbor could have been devastating. With winter fast approaching and salt needed for our local roads, it is imperative that ships can get into the now-open harbor to reduce the chances of higher municipal budgets to deal with snow removal. This situation further underscores why federal funds collected for harbor maintenance should be fully utilized for just that, harbor maintenance.”
“If it has concrete in it or asphalt around it, chances are very good that materials from a dock have been utilized in the project,” said Pete Berghoff, owner of Dock 63. “Our local harbors provide a reliable, economical source of bulk aggregates for use in a wide range of construction projects; everything from highways and bridges, industrial, and commercial, right down to residential housing – a healthy dock is a gateway for essential resources for the surrounding region.”
Upton is a cosponsor of the bipartisan Realize America’s Maritime Promise (RAMP) Act (H.R. 104) to ensure that all funding collected through the federal Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund is fully used for the intended purpose of harbor maintenance. Upton is also a signatory of a recent letter to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) requesting that the RAMP Act be included in the administration’s budget for FY 2013.
Dredging Today Staff, January 10, 2012; Image: upton