"It's clear we need a new model – one that speeds up the process of planning and constructing projects and brings to the table greater private investment," Durbin said. "Our bipartisan bill will provide a new way to upgrade and maintain our water infrastructure investments even as we face severe fiscal constraints in Washington."
Also Thursday, Reps. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., Daniel Lipinski, D-Ill., Bill Cassidy, R-La., Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., and Pete Olson, R-Texas, introduced legislation to modernize the lock and dam infrastructure on the inland waterways system.
The legislation incorporates the Inland Waterways Capital Development Plan, which prioritizes essential construction and major rehabilitation projects, revises current beneficiaries' cost-sharing for these projects, reforms the Corps of Engineers' internal project delivery process, and suggests a revenue enhancement – a 30 to 45% increase in the existing user fee the navigation industry pays – to fund infrastructure investments.
"Efficient and reliable transportation of goods on our inland waterways is essential to economic development, job creation, and remaining competitive in the global marketplace," Whitfield said. "Our aging infrastructure jeopardizes efficient waterborne commerce and highlights the need for the WAVE4 Act that will implement a comprehensive plan to improve project management and put in place an objective investment strategy that will prioritize our infrastructure needs."
The bill, "Waterways are Vital for the Economy, Energy, Efficiency, and Environment Act of 2013" comes with a companion Senate bill, "Reinvesting in Vital Economic Rivers and Waterways Act of 2013 (RIVER)."
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