Infrastructure on our nation’s waterways is improving, but it still needs a major facelift.
President Donald Trump is vowing to push $1 trillion to improve roads, bridges and river locks across the country.
The American Society of Engineers has released its ‘report card’ on the condition of waterway infrastructure last week, improving to a ‘D’ from a ‘D-’ in 2013.
Lock and Dam 17 has been a stalwart on the Mississippi River in New Boston, Ill, and the Army Corps of Engineers are doing their best to make sure it stays stranding.
“The original design for the lock was 50 years, and the rehab design life was 25 years ago,” said Bob Castro of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “If you do the math, we’re well-past both of those.”
A lot of the funding for reconstruction and repairs are mandated by Congress. The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), was passed last year. The two-year bill authorizes how to improve and maintain the waterway system and then appropriates funds to achieve what needs to get done.
“We need to get back to the point where we’re allocating resources today in exchange for value tomorrow,” said Mike Steenhoek, executive director of the Soy Transportation Coalition. “That requires long-term thinking.”
Currently, the entire federal government is under a continuing resolution until the end of April, meaning funding is frozen at prior-year levels.
“That’s quite common now—I wish it wasn’t that way,” said Castro.
What's being done to address lock repairs is addressed by AgDay's Clinton Griffiths.