• ITVI.USA
    15,462.460
    -34.260
    -0.2%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.752
    0.009
    0.3%
  • OTRI.USA
    20.670
    -0.440
    -2.1%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,437.200
    -29.190
    -0.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    3.300
    0.000
    0%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.140
    0.190
    6.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.590
    0.150
    10.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.330
    0.020
    0.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.170
    0.020
    0.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.080
    0.130
    3.3%
  • WAIT.USA
    125.000
    -1.000
    -0.8%
  • ITVI.USA
    15,462.460
    -34.260
    -0.2%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.752
    0.009
    0.3%
  • OTRI.USA
    20.670
    -0.440
    -2.1%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,437.200
    -29.190
    -0.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    3.300
    0.000
    0%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.140
    0.190
    6.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.590
    0.150
    10.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.330
    0.020
    0.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.170
    0.020
    0.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.080
    0.130
    3.3%
  • WAIT.USA
    125.000
    -1.000
    -0.8%
American Shipper

A tale of two waterways

   Remarks by Mike Toohey, president and chief executive officer of the Waterways Council Inc. (WCI), when the proposed 2013 Obama budget for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was released gave us pause.
   Toohey focused his remarks on the Olmsted Lock and Dam on the Ohio River, which WCI spokesperson Debra Colbert told us has become the poster child for what’s wrong with funding and constructing inland waterway infrastructure. The twin Olmsted locks are being built to replace what Toohey called “Roaring 20s-era” facilities at Locks 52 and 53.
   The budget, he added, was “hugely disappointing, not only because of the colossal $800 million amount of cost escalation and overrun on the Olmsted Lock and Dam project, but also the incredible 10-year addition to the construction schedule.”
   First authorized in 1988 at $775 million, Olmsted was supposed to be finished in seven years. In recent years the tab was estimated at $2.1 billion. Now it is $2.9 billion, and may climb north of $3 billion, Colbert said.
   Part of the problem may have been the decision to use an “in the wet” construction method instead of traditional cofferdams, but WCI complains Corps of Engineers funding has been spread among too many projects and dribbled out over decades. Costs would fall if projects were prioritized and built expeditiously. Colbert likened it to building a house one wall at a time over many years instead of erecting it quickly in a single year.
   Shippers lose out on the transportation cost savings that come from having these projects long delayed.
   Toohey contrasted the situation at Olmsted with progress made on the Panama Canal: “As a nation, we should be extremely concerned by our seeming inability to complete these much needed projects that are the foundation for American competitiveness.”
   The answer?  Toohey said WCI, with the cooperation of the Corps of Engineers, developed a Waterways Capital Development Plan that could deliver 25 projects in the next 20 years, instead of six under the current process. WCI is even willing to see the diesel tax rise from 20 cents to upwards of 29 cents to help fund it. — Chris Dupin

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