Members of the barge shipping industry are on Capitol Hill today, asking Congress to raise the taxes they pay for fuel.
Shippers support a plan that would increase the fuel tax they pay from 20 cents per-gallon to 29 cents per-gallon of diesel fuel. The extra money would be used to fund improvements to locks and dams, some of which are more than 70 years old.
Earlier this year shippers feared that the worst drought in decades would slam the brakes on the billion dollar barge shipping industry, but recent heavy rains and snow have raised water levels on the drought starved Mississippi River.
Even though shippers are back to carrying normal loads, American Waterways Operators spokeswoman Ann McCulluh says the industry remains anxious about the future.
“You can bet that we will be watching the forecast, watching the water levels very carefully,” McCulluh said.
The barge industry again raised concerns Wednesday about the impact low water levels on the Mississippi River will have on shipping.
According to a new report from American Waterways Operators, low water could affect more than 8,000 jobs along the river. The group's spokeswoman, Ann McCulloch, says the situation isn't expected to improve any time soon.
"As the river levels drop river depth decreases and the river banks recede. As a result the fleeting areas (areas where barges are picked up and dropped off) move closer to the channel. This makes for tight quarters while vessels navigate the river."
Credit via Flickr/TeamSaintLouis (Army Corps of Engineers)
Updated 2:10 p.m. with information about excavation and blasting.
Updated at 4:45 p.m. to include comments from Jody Farhat of the Corps of Engineers.
The amount of water flowing into the lower Missouri River will be increased this week because of concerns about colder temperatures, but the increase isn't likely to boost the level of the Mississippi River downstream.