Officials Call for Funding to End Harbor Maintenance Backlog (USA)
A bipartisan group of Great Lakes senators, led by Great Lakes Task Force co-chairs Sen. Carl Levin and Sen. Mark Kirk, wrote to Army Corps of Engineers leaders, urging them to direct additional funding for harbor maintenance projects to reduce a severe backlog of projects in the Great Lakes.
The letter, from members of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force to Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy and Chief of Engineers Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick, asks that Great Lakes projects receive at least $30 million of the $200 million in additional navigation funding included in the omnibus appropriations bill Congress approved in January.
Text of the letter follows:
“The Great Lakes serve a vital transportation function for hauling raw materials for our manufacturers, building materials for roads and bridges, coal for powering our homes and businesses, equipment for wind turbines, and food for domestic and international consumption. This mode of transportation through the Great Lakes is often the least expensive way to ship these goods across the Midwest. In order for this navigational infrastructure to function well, harbors and channels need to be dredged, breakwaters need to be maintained, and locks need to operate effectively.
“The system, however, has not been adequately maintained and faces a backlog of critical dredging needs, including construction and expansion of dredged material management facilities; aging locks in need of repair and modernization; and deteriorating navigation structures such as breakwaters, piers, and jetties, most of which were built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
“On January 16, 2014, Congress approved an appropriations measure for fiscal year 2014 (FY2014) that provided funding to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a variety of water resource projects, including Great Lakes navigation projects. In addition to amounts specifically allocated to individual navigation projects, additional funding was provided, which the Corps will distribute to individual projects across the country using guidance provided in the bill.
“This additional funding was provided by Congress because, as explained in the joint statement, “Federal navigation channels maintained at only a fraction of authorized dimensions . . . results in economic inefficiencies and risks infrastructure failure, which can cause substantial economic losses. Investing in operation, maintenance, and rehabilitation of infrastructure today will save taxpayers money in the future.” Of the additional funds provided by Congress, Great Lakes navigation projects are eligible for about $200 million, which include additional funds for navigation maintenance, deep-draft harbors and channels, small remote or subsistence navigation, and regional sediment management.”
Press Release, February 10, 2014