Brownwater News, May 2019

High water levels slow Midwest barge traffic

The U.S. Coast Guard established a safety zone on the Illinois River on May 7, restricting all vessel traffic from mile marker 187 to mile marker 145.6 and mile marker 80.2 to mile marker 10 due to extremely high water levels and fast-moving currents.

The Coast Guard captain of the port determines when to issue a river closure by following a waterways action plan designed to facilitate “the safe and orderly movement of traffic” during extreme conditions.

“During this extended period of high water, public safety is our No. 1 priority,” said Capt. Scott Stoermer, captain of the port, Sector Upper Mississippi River.

On May 3, the Coast Guard closed a portion of the Mississippi River to all vessel traffic near St. Louis, Mo., from marker 179 to mile marker 184 due to similar conditions.

Vessel operators can request permission to move within the closure zones from the captain of the port representative at Coast Guard Sector Upper Mississippi River or at (314) 269-2332 at least 30 minutes prior to movement.

Inland Waterways Users Board to meet May 23

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has announced that the 91st meeting of the Inland Waterways Users Board will be held May 23 at the Westin Canal Place Hotel in New Orleans.

On May 22, the Corps said there will be a site visit to the Inner Harbor Navigational Canal Lock in New Orleans and the Bayou Sorrel Lock, located on the Port Allen to Morgan City portion of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, about 20 miles southwest of Baton Rouge, La.

For additional details on the May 22 visits and hotel reservations, contact Mark R. Pointon at (703) 428-6438 or Ken Lichtman at (703) 428-8083.

IRPT: ‘Need is clear’ for inland port grant program

At their annual conference last month in Baton Rouge, La., leaders of Inland Rivers, Ports & Terminals Inc. (IRPT) called on Congress to establish an Inland Port and Terminal Grant Program.

“The need is clear,” said Bill Miller of the Paducah-McCracken County (Ky.) Riverport Authority, noting that it was difficult for inland ports and terminals to compete with other infrastructure projects for funding. “People see the road,” he said. “They don’t see the inland ports.”

Inland ports and terminals need significant investment in order to meet current and future transportation needs, he added.

“Simply put, our inland facilities that carry the nation’s freight cannot compete effectively against those large highway projects,” said Aimee Andres, executive director of IRPT.

MarAd awards $6.8 million for Marine Highway projects

The Maritime Administration (MarAd) recently announced nearly $6.8 million in grants for three Marine Highway projects. The funding will help enhance existing services in Louisiana and Virginia, and support the development of a new project in New York.

The grants include $3.1 million to support the container-on-barge service at the ports of Baton Rouge and New Orleans, and $1.8 million to allow James River Barge Lines to build a third barge to expand existing service. Harbor Harvest received $1.8 million to establish a “Farm to Harbor to Market” service for Long Island.

“These grants will expand the use of our country’s waterways, which are essential to our economic growth and vitality,” said Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

GICA to hold annual seminar in New Orleans

The Gulf Intracoastal Canal Association (GICA) has scheduled its 114th annual seminar for Aug. 7-9 at the InterContinental hotel in New Orleans.

GICA President Jim Stark said that, as in the past, the speaker list will be highlighted by operational and senior leaders in industry, and the group’s federal partners.

“We will have relevant, timely and interesting topics addressing the inland waterways,” Stark said. He can be contacted at (901) 490-3312 or

Sara Fuentes named VP of Transportation Institute

The Transportation Institute has announced that Sara Fuentes, vice president of government and external affairs with the Navy League, has joined the institute as vice president for government affairs.

In her 13 years of service in the maritime and defense industries, Fuentes also has volunteered her time for national organizations such as Women in Aerospace and has served on the national board of the National Audubon Society, said Jim Henry, chairman and president of the Transportation Institute.

Fuentes said she was thrilled to represent the men and women of American maritime “who are absolutely essential to our nation’s security.”

AAPA still searching for new president and CEO

The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) is continuing its search for a new president and chief executive officer to succeed Kurt Nagle.

The search began in October when Nagle announced that he would be retiring this year after more than 33 years of service to the port industry. He was appointed AAPA president and CEO in 1995.

Nagle’s successor is expected to be announced by the time the AAPA holds its next annual convention in October.

Buzby to testify on MarAd budget bill May 21

U.S. Maritime Administrator Mark Buzby is scheduled to testify before the House Coast Guard and Transportation Subcommittee on May 21.

The subcommittee will be hearing testimony on the fiscal year 2019 budget for the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation programs.

By Professional Mariner Staff