The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works released its bipartisan Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) proposal ahead of a mid-week Committee mark-up. The draft is an important marker that will get the ball rolling on this long-stalled legislation.
According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, inland waterway shippers experience — on average — 52 service interruptions a day on the entire system, meaning locks close due to either construction activity or an outright failure, with the latter increasing in frequency.
Commodities and products critical to manufacturing like coal, steel, fertilizer, petroleum, chemicals and grain among others, move efficiently on the nation’s 12,000 miles of commercially navigable and intra-coastal waterways. WRDA ensures sustained investment in these commercially relevant waterways so that manufacturing inputs are received and finished products delivered.
Manufacturers also appreciate the Committee’s commitment to addressing the long-standing issue of under-investment in our nation’s ports and harbors. For too long, ocean shippers from nearly every sector of economy have helped finance a robust Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) that has not been allowed to expend funds in a manner that is commensurate with the demands our economy places on the nation’s ports and harbors.
The addition of a Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation title that plays off the success of the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) and improving the environmental review process of Army Corps of Engineers-sponsored projects are welcome developments. The legislation must do what is necessary to move critical infrastructure projects more expeditiously and prevent Corps projects from falling victim to bureaucratic delays and poor project management, sometimes over periods of time that span decades.
The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has placed WRDA at the top of its agenda. For manufacturers, WRDA is critical to keeping commerce moving.