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View Diary: Drought and Low Water: The Mississippi May Be Unnavigable Within Weeks (191 comments)

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  •  The crumbling infrastructure (2+ / 0-)
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    nasheval, RWood

    of the Mississippi River system is another pertinent part of the challenges affecting those who depend on it to move their products to market.

    The Corps of Engineers’ Lock Performance Monitoring System data indicate that lock unavailability time has more than doubled over the past decade. ... This has serious implications for the future of the inland waterway system as a viable freight transportation mode.
    Considering that on a system-wide basis, waterways are generally more energy efficient and produce fewer air emissions than other freight modes, perhaps there needs to be a discussion of what transportation policies and goals best serve the long-run national interest.  As noted earlier in this paper, the Department of Transportation’s Freight Analysis Framework (FAF) is projecting freight traffic to increase 70 percent by 2020.  The brunt of this growth will be borne by highways, which are already at capacity in many locations.  The FAF assumption is that rail and water modes can help meet the freight demand that cannot be handled by the highway system.  But if lack of investment and perceived unreliability are already steering shippers away from water, this mode may not be able to play the future role for which it is needed.  Indeed, with increasing lock unavailability across the system, the practical capacity of the inland waterway mode diminishes over time, pushing more cargo off the system and perhaps stressing other freight modes even sooner than suggested in the recent FAF study
    The Declining Reliability of the U.S. Inland Waterway System
    David V. Grier
    U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Institute for Water Resources

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