The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has begun accepting project requests for the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2010. The committee said that the deadline for submitting requests is Dec. 3 at 1800.
Meanwhile, the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment scheduled a hearing for Nov. 18 on WRDA-2010 proposals.
The full committee told its House colleagues that all projects must be submitted through its newly created online database. Upon completion of an electronic submission, applicants must submit an official request letter to Tracy Mosebey in the committee’s Editorial Office (B-329) by Dec. 3. The letter is to be addressed to Chairman James L. Oberstar (D-Minn.) and Ranking Member John Mica (R-Fla.). Also to be submitted to Mosebey are letters of support from the non-federal sponsor for each project request; a receipt for each project request, generated by the online database; and two original, signed Congressional Earmark Certification Forms for each project request. Finally, the committee told its colleagues that they must post their project requests on their official Web site within 24 hours of submitting their official WRDA request letters to the committee. The committee said it would not consider requests that have not been posted.
Questions regarding the WRDA request process should be directed to the subcommittee’s Majority staff at (202) 225-0060 or the subcommittee’s Minority staff at (202) 225-4360.
Corps studies purposes of Missouri River basin
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to sponsor a series of nine public and tribal focus group meetings in support of the Missouri River Authorized Purposes Study. The meetings will stretch over several months and will be conducted in various locations throughout the Missouri River basin and along the Mississippi River.
The first meeting was scheduled for Nov. 19 at the Kansas Public Library in Kansas City, Kan. Future meeting dates and locations will be announced when finalized.
The eight original purposes of the Missouri River basin were established by the 1944 Flood Control Act. They are flood control, hydropower, water supply, irrigation, navigation, recreation, water quality and fish and wildlife. The goal of the multiyear study is to determine if changes in the original purposes are warranted.
Darcy reports stimulus funds aid Corps’ civil works projects
Jo-Ellen Darcy, in her first appearance before a congressional committee since she was confirmed as assistant secretary of the Army (Civil Works), told the House Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Nov. 4 that U.S. Army Corps of Engineers civil works projects funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 “(have begun) to contribute to the nation’s safety, economy, environment and quality of life.”
Testifying at a hearing on stimulus spending under the recovery act, Darcy said that nearly all of the $4.6 billion appropriated for civil works “has been identified for specific civil works projects and activities.” As of Sept. 30, Darcy said, financial obligations totaled $2.2 billion, of which $2 billion was for contracts and the balance was for temporary hired labor and administration and oversight of contracts. As of that date, she said, outlays totaled $328 million. The work was accomplished between May and September.
Leaders of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the House subcommittee expressed their general pleasure with the progress being made in implementing the recovery act, but Rep. John Boozman (R-Ark.), ranking member of the subcommittee, stressed “the importance of oversight as national unemployment nears double digits and reports of overestimated job creation under the stimulus continue to surface.”
For instance, Boozman said, the administration “has sent more than $2.5 million in stimulus checks to the deceased, spent $1 million to build bike lockers and a bike garage in Portland, Ore., $1.3 million in Maine for basket makers, storytellers, and a music festival, and spent more than $9 million to restore an abandoned train depot in Lancaster, Pa.”
Boozman said that while some might try to rationalize those expenditures, “it is hard to see how they could be as beneficial as investments in harbor maintenance, locks and dams, levee repairs, and waste water treatment plants.”
Congress approves Corps, Coast Guard spending bills for FY 2010
A bill that provides $5.4 billion for the civil works program of the Army Corps of Engineers in the fiscal year that began Oct. 1 was signed by President Obama on Oct. 28.
A breakdown of the funds included in H.R. 3183, the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010, shows $2 billion for construction, $2.4 billion for operation and maintenance, $160 million for investigations, $340 million for the Mississippi River and tributaries, and $190 million for the Corps’ regulatory program.
Also signed by the president Oct. 28 was a $55 billion spending bill (H.R. 2892) that will fund the Department of Homeland Security this fiscal year. The total includes about $10 billion for the Coast Guard, about the same that was appropriated for the fiscal year that just ended. The Coast Guard total includes $1.2 billion for aids to navigation, $2 billion for port, waterways and coastal security, and $594 million for marine safety.
MarAd guarantees loans for nine asphalt, 30 hopper barges
The U.S. Maritime Administration (MarAd) has agreed to guarantee loans of $40.8 million to enable the Canal Barge Co., of New Orleans, to order nine asphalt barges and 30 open hopper barges.
MarAd said that the asphalt barges will be used to carry home heating products, and the hopper barges will carry coal for the generation of electricity. Trinity Marine Group will build all the barges at its yards in Mississippi and Louisiana.
The total cost of the barge construction project is $46.8 million. The MarAd loan guarantees are for 87.5 percent of the actual value of the project.
The Canal Barge project brings the MarAd loan guarantee portfolio to about $2.5 billion. The portfolio includes tankers, tugs, barges, dive support vessels, drill rigs, ferries, offshore supply vessels and container vessels.
Calhoun elected chairman of Waterways Council Inc.
Members and directors of the Waterways Council Inc., meeting Oct. 12 in New Orleans, elected Richard R. Calhoun of Cargo Carriers as chairman for 2009-2010. Calhoun succeeds Dan Mecklenborg of Ingram Barge Line Co.
Among other officers elected were Cornel Martin, president; Merritt Lane of Canal Barge Co., vice chairman; and Rodney Weinzierl of the Illinois Corn Growers Association, vice chairman.
Named honorary past chairmen were Berdon Lawrence of the Kirby Corp. and Mark Knoy of AEP River Operations.
Barge industry urged to adopt 20-year capital construction plan
The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) has urged users of the nation’s navigable rivers and the Army Corps of Engineers to agree on a 20-year capital construction plan.
As reported by the Capitol Currents newsletter of Waterways Council Inc., NAM said in a paper that U.S. manufacturers depend on efficiencies of water transportation to remain competitive, but noted that increasing lock closures, both planned and unplanned, “create costly delays and threaten to erode these efficiencies.”
NAM said it was concerned, however, that higher waterway fees would “lessen the competitiveness of the waterway option and disproportionately affect the major industrial and agricultural shippers who rely onâ€¢the river systems.”
Inland Waterways Users Board to meet Dec. 15
The Inland Waterways Users Board has scheduled a meeting for Dec. 15 at the Westin New Orleans Canal Place.
The agenda includes reports on funding for inland navigation projects and studies, and on the status of the Inland Waterways Trust Fund.
For more information, contact Mark R. Pointon at (202) 761-4691.
Worley quits Merchant Marine Academy
Rear Adm. Allen Worley, who became superintendent of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, N.Y., in October of last year, has resigned effective Jan. 4, 2010.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said that Shashi Kumar, academic dean and assistant superintendent for academic affairs, will act as interim superintendent pending the completion of a nationwide search for a permanent successor to Worley.
In a press release, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced the resignation and gave no reason for Worley’s decision to step down. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Transportation refused to elaborate on the press release.
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, before 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.