The following is text of a news release from the Waterways Council Inc. (WCI):
(WASHINGTON) — The Waterways Council Inc. offered praise for Congress, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ for the Corps’ fiscal year 2020 (FY20) work plan that lays out allocations for funds provided in the FY20 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill toward the Corps’ Civil Works mission. The work plan was released late Monday.
Critical to the nation’s agricultural shippers and American family farmers, the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program (NESP) (Upper Mississippi River – Illinois Waterway System) was provided $4.5 million from the FY20 work plan to continue preconstruction engineering and design (PED) for the program; $3 million will go toward NESP’s navigation component and $1.5 million will go toward its environmental restoration component. This is the first allocation of PED funds for NESP since 2012.
Funding from the Corps’ construction account ($336.76 million) — representing full and efficient funding from the Inland Waterways Trust Fund — was allocated to the following priority navigation projects under construction:
• Olmsted (Kentucky/Illinois): $63 million to completion
• Kentucky Lock (Kentucky): $61 million
• Lower Mon 2, 3, 4 Project (Pennsylvania): $111 million
• Chickamauga (Tennessee): $101.7 million
Also of note, $85.35 million was allocated in the FY20 work plan to initiate construction of deepening the Mississippi River Ship Channel, Gulf to Baton Rouge (Louisiana) to 50 feet.
The Corps’ FY20 work plan also allocates record operations and maintenance (O&M) funding for dredging and for locks and dams.
The Corps’ investigations account will also fund these projects in FY20 of particular importance to WCI:
• $2.5 million to continue PED for the Three Rivers Project (Arkansas)
• $7.7 million to continue PED for the Upper Ohio River Navigation Study (Ohio/Pennsylvania)
“The outcomes achieved in the Corps’ FY20 work plan allocations to modernize the nation’s inland waterways transportation system and continue to employ construction workers are a big win for our stakeholders. We owe tremendous thanks to Congress for utilizing revenues from the Inland Waterways Trust Fund that commercial operators pay to fund half of construction through the highest diesel fuel tax of any surface transportation mode. WCI is particularly grateful for PED funding for the NESP program on the Upper Mississippi River and Illinois Waterway that is the lifeblood for agricultural shippers and others. We are appreciative of the commitment of Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) R.D. James to these funding results,” said Mike Toohey, president and CEO of WCI.
“We also wish to thank the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Secretary Sonny Perdue for release of USDA’s August 2019 study, 'The Importance of the Inland Waterways to Agriculture,' which stressed the vital contribution to the nation resulting from waterways modernization on the Upper Mississippi River and Illinois Waterway,” Toohey continued.