BrownWater News February 2011

New Congress called ‘a major concern’ for waterways industry

James R. McCarville, executive director of the Port of Pittsburgh, finds the new Congress to be a “major concern for everybody on the waterway system right now.â€

McCarville, in Washington, for the recent annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board, delivered an overview of PIANC’s (Permanent International Association of Navigation Congresses) work on inland rivers. He said in an interview that the waterways industry “clearly doesn’t know what is going to happen†on Capitol Hill.

“Industry has worked very hard with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to come up with what we thought was a very reasonable approach to increasing the waterway (diesel fuel) tax and improving a lot of the critical infrastructure that needs to be upgraded,†he said. “I think there was just a tremendous disappointment with the administration’s response to that, to the point that it did not even appear that they had read the report. It was a great disappointment.â€

“On the other hand,†McCarville said, the waterways industry’s approach “is so consistent with the president’s agenda to invest in our infrastructure that we’re trying to figure out what the disconnect is and we haven’t figure that one out yet…. The problem is that Congress is moving into uncharted territory and we don’t know how Congress is going to operate, how they’re going to deal with projects like these. Will they be construed to be earmarks?†

“Congress has to make some opinion on what it’s going to do,†he continued. “Wrap all of that together with the pressure to cut spending that is rampant right now in Congress and you have a major concern. …People fear not only a reduction in the investment in new infrastructure but even in the maintenance of that infrastructure. If you’re not going to maintain it, everybody knows what happens to it. This is a tremendous resource that is at risk. It will be a very, very difficult decade if Congress pursues the path that it appears to be on. We’re hopeful but we just don’t know.â€

During his presentation, McCarville reported that PIANC will be taking over the management of Smart Rivers following the association’s conference in New Orleans in September. The conference is being sponsored by PIANC U.S.A. Previous conferences have been held in Brussels, Louisville and Vienna.

Smart Rivers, McCarville explained, is “an initiative we started in Pittsburgh with counterparts in Austria in the European waterways. They come here or we go over there. We examine the technical, cultural, historical and environmental aspects of what makes waterways work.â€

PIANC International will take the conference worldwide and include more than U.S. and European waterways, McCarville said. It will become the conference on world waterway transportation.

McCarville said PIANC is looking for new members, but one does not have to be a member to join a working group. The fee for an individual membership is $120.

 â€œIf you just want to get involved in a working group, you can do that,†he said. “It grows on you.â€

Researchers find cargo movements via GIWW-West cheaper than rail/truck

Three researchers from the Texas Transportation Institute have concluded that it’s cheaper to ship cargo via the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway-West (GIWW-West) than to move it by rail and/or truck.

That conclusion was reported in a paper presented by Annie Protopapas, C. James Kruse and Leslie E. Olson at the 90th annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board Jan. 23 to 27 in Washington, D.C.

The paper summarized the field data collection limitations and alternative methodologies employed to estimate transportation rates for 40 commodity movements on the GIWW-West and alternative rail and truck routings.

The authors said they developed transportation rates for most of the movements and found that barge transport was the cheapest and that the most practical land-only transportation alternative to barge was rail.

NWC to host 2011 Legislative Summit March 8-9

The National Waterways Conference (NWC) has scheduled its 2011 Legislative Summit for March 8 to 9 at the Phoenix Park Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Some of the topics will include congressional spending, the moratorium on earmarks, water resources policies and infrastructure projects and potential legislation. A congressional reception is set for the evening of March 8.

Reporting rules suspended for barges hauling some dangerous cargoes

The commander of the Eighth Coast Guard District has temporarily suspended reporting requirements under the Regulated Navigation Area (RNA) established for barges loaded with certain dangerous cargoes (CDC barges) in the inland rivers area.

A final rule will either lift the suspension or restore the obligation of the affected parties to comply with the existing reporting requirements, modify those requirements or repeal the RNA. The suspension of the CDC reporting requirements does not relieve towing vessel operators and fleeting area managers responsible for CDC barges in the RNA from their dangerous cargo or vessel arrival and movement reporting obligations currently in effect under other regulations.

The suspension became effective Jan. 15 and will remain effective until Jan. 15, 2013.

Lt. Suzanne Kerver, District Eight public affairs officer, explained that at the time of the suspension, the Inland River Vessel Movement Center (IRVMC) was disestablished, and that the RNA, which mandates reports to the IRVMC from companies carrying CDCs, was temporarily suspended.

Kerver said the suspensions will be in effect until the Coast Guard has analyzed the needs for future reporting requirements and promulgates a final rule.

For more information, contact Lt. Jennifer S. Makowski at (504) 671-2266.

Canadian seaway administrators decide against toll increase 

The Canadian St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. has announced that there will be no toll increase this year on the international waterway. The corporation said the decision to extend the toll freeze was made “in an effort to maintain the momentum underlying the Seaway’s market development initiatives.â€

Bruce Hodgson, the corporation’s director of market development, said that a 15.5 percent increase in tonnage, to 35.5 million metric tons, during the 2010 navigation season “testifies to a rebound in activity, following a difficult 2009 season.â€

“Given the recuperation of the economy, an extra year with no toll increase will assist our stakeholders in their efforts to develop new business and will serve to reinforce the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System’s position as the gateway to North America’s heartland,†Hodgson said.

Since its inception in 1959, more than 2.5 billion metric tons of cargoes valued at over $375 billion have moved via the Seaway, the corporation said.

New members sought for Towing Safety Advisory Committee

The U.S. Coast Guard has invited interested parties to apply for membership on the 18-member Towing Safety Advisory Committee. Completed application forms should reach the Coast Guard by March 7.

The Coast Guard is considering applications for eight positions — four current positions that will become vacant on Sept. 30 and four newly created active-credentialed positions resulting from amendments to the committee membership.

Applications are to be sent to Michael J. Harmon, Alternate Designated Federal Officer of TSAC at Commandant (CG-5222)/TSAC, U.S. Coast Guard, 2100 Second St., SW, STOP 7126, Washington, D.C. 20593-7126.

For more information, contact Harmon at (202) 372-1427.

Bill assures deposits in trust fund would be used for harbor maintenance

Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.) has introduced for himself and two dozen House colleagues a bill designed to ensure that deposits made to the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund are used for harbor maintenance.

Barry Holliday, chairman of Realize America’s Maritime Promise and executive director of Dredging Contractors of America, reported early in January that the bill (H.R. 104) had attracted more than 30 co-sponsors.

“We are very excited that Congressman Boustany has successfully reached out to Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the chairman of the House Budget Committee, and he has signed on as a co-sponsor,†Holliday said.

Rep. Miller honored for pursuing ‘dredging crisis’ on Lakes

The Great Lakes Maritime Task Force has named Rep. Candice Miller (R-Mich.) 2011 Great Lakes Legislator of the Year for her “unwavering commitment to ending the dredging crisis on the Great Lakes.â€

“Congresswoman Miller has twice co-sponsored legislation that requires the government to take the tax dollars it collects for dredging and spend the full amount on keeping our nation’s waterways open to commerce,†said John D. Baker, president of the task force. “The Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund has a surplus of $5.65 billion because the government only spends about $750 million a year on dredging deepdraft ports and waterways. As a result, vessels working the Great Lakes often forfeit as much as 10 percent of their carrying capacity each trip.â€

The latest dredging bill co-sponsored by Miller was H.R. 104, which was introduced Jan. 5 by Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.) for himself and two-dozen House colleagues.

Bill would clarify EPA authority over dredge disposal sites

Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) has introduced for himself and seven Senate colleagues a bill to clarify and confirm the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over dredge disposal sites.

The measure, S. 272, would amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to clarify the EPA’s authority to deny or restrict the use of disposal sites for dredged or fill material.

About the Author:

Carlo Salzano has been in journalism since graduating from La Salle University in 1948 as a chemistry major. That’s right, chemistry. He began his career as a copy boy at the Philadelphia Inquirer, before moving on to United Press International in Philadelphia, Charleston, West Virgina, Baltimore and Washington. After 14 years, Carlo joined Traffic World magazine and stayed on for 23 years, retiring as editor in 1990. A majority of Carlo’s time at Traffic World was spent covering the maritime community and he continued on in the maritime field while freelancing throughout his “retirement.” He is married and has three children and eight grandchildren.

By Professional Mariner Staff