A pair of bills related to transportation on the inland waterways was introduced in the US House and Senate on Thursday.
Illinois Congressman Bill Enyart introduced his first piece of legislation since being sworn into office last January—the Mississippi River Navigation Sustainment Act.
Enyart says the bill would give the Army Corps of Engineers authority that it doesn’t currently have, to conduct operations outside of the barge channel.
“The Corps would be allowed to make sure that there is adequate depth in the fleeting areas, where they tie the barges off, and also insure access to the docks, loading facilities and critical infrastructure,” says Enyart.
Enyart says the measures are common sense fixes the shipping industry has been requesting for some time.
“This has been a bipartisan issue, this is not a Republican or Democratic issue, and it’s not a State of Illinois issue, it’s throughout the region that it will benefit,” Enyart said.
The bill would not affect how water is held back or released from upstream reservoirs.
A similar bill introduced in the Senate by fellow Democrat Dick Durbin, as well as Republican Mark Kirk would fund improvements to locks and dams along the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers.
Funding for the projects would be raised through public-private partnerships.
The Army Corps estimates there is a $60 billion backlog of outstanding projects that would take decades to complete without outside investment.
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