Trouble on the Waterways?

by Paul Tarricone, Asst. Editor; Civil Engineering Magazine, ASCE World Headquarters, 345 East 47th Street, New York City, NY.,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1991, Vol. 61, Issue 2, Pg. 52-55

Document Type: Feature article


Crumbling highways and bridges can cripple the U.S. economy. A lesser known transportation problem is the condition of our inland waterway system. Waterways are a cost-efficient, environmentally-sound way to transport goods for intercity commerce and to coastal ports for export. Most experts agree the inland waterway system is basically in good condition, but there are several disturbing warning signs for the future. First, many locks on the system have grown old together and are approaching the end of their design life; second, many are simply too small to handle today's barges, meaning tows often must break up to pass. The result: delays at locks are costing industry an average of $700 per hour per tow in lost productivity. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has embarked on an ambitious reconstruction program on many segments of the system, but funding is limited. Will demand overwhelm the supply of available funds, dealing a blow to U.S. economic competitiveness?

Subject Headings: Waterways | Highway bridges | Inland waterways | Environmental issues | Freight transportation | Interurban travel | Sea water | Ports and harbors

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