The Impact on Maintaining Our Federal Channels with Today's Fiscal Realities

The ongoing, worldwide, economic downturn that began in 2008 will have a long-lasting, negative impact on the ability to properly maintain the United States' port facilities and, in particular, perform necessary dredging within federal projects. This is exacerbating the federal government's current political atmosphere or inability to meet the navigation needs of the nation's ports for many decades. The US Congress Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) is the legislation that authorizes federal cost-sharing participation in maintenance and deepening of federally designated channels. The cost-sharing partner must be a governmental entity. Congress has been reducing or diverting funding designated for maintenance dredging projects from federal navigation channels. This problem is being aggravated by the on-going and proposed channel-deepening to service newer generations of ships. These improvements are necessary to receive vessels currently transiting the Suez Canal and those that will take advantage of the Panama Canal expansion. Federal navigation channels are typically the foundation of the nation's ports. Port authorities and private terminal operators want to take advantage of larger vessels and the cargoes they contain for economic and environmental reasons. Similarly, shippers seek the most economical cargo routing to maintain their efficiency. Many public port facilities and private terminal operators have embarked on aggressive plans to modernize and expand their shoreside infrastructure to meet these objectives. The ultimate beneficiary of these "America's Marine Highway Corridors, Connectors and Crossings" program efforts is the nation as a whole since the cost of moving goods decreases (exports and imports), ocean transit becomes more efficient and environmental impacts are lessened. This should lead the Congress to support the Corps of Engineers' maintenance dredging program. Unfortunately, even though the Corps of Engineers performs benefit/cost analyses, projects determined to be in the national economic interest are not always authorized or adequately funded. This paper will explore the issues concerning the actions, pitfalls, and consequences of paying for work that the federal government determines to be in the nation's economic interest, but is unable to perform.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Web
  • Pagination: pp 381-390
  • Monograph Title: Ports 2013: Success through Diversification

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01523259
  • Record Type: Publication
  • ISBN: 9780784413067
  • Files: TRIS, ASCE
  • Created Date: Mar 24 2014 3:02PM