Inland Waterways Users Board Endorses Recommendations of the Inland Marine Transportation System Capital Investment Strategy Team

Info from WCI Release and attached presentation from Inland Waterways Users Board Meeting in New Orleans on December 15, 2009:

Hoey – IMTS Capital Inv Strategy 12-15-2009

Inland Waterways Users Board Endorses Recommendations of the Inland Marine Transportation System Capital Investment Strategy Team (White Paper Working Group)

At their final meeting of 2009, the Inland Waterways Users Board (IWUB) on December 15th endorsed the recommendations of the Inland Marine Transportation System Capital Investment Strategy Team, commonly referred to as the “White Paper Working Group.”  The Team, a combination of Corps navigation, economics and engineering experts and Inland Waterway User Board members from industry, has been meeting regularly since the beginning of this year to draft a proposed 20-year Capital Development Plan for the Inland Waterways Navigation System which, if adopted into law, will prioritize projects across the entire system, improve the Corps’ project management and processes to deliver projects on time and on budget, and to develop a funding mechanism that is affordable and meets the needs of the system.   The Team’s plan calls for completion of the projects at Olmsted, Lower Mon, Chickamauga, Kentucky, and Inner Harbor within the 20-year plan.  The Plan also includes new starts at Lock and Dam 25 in 2011, GIWW–High Island to Brazos River, Texas in 2013, Lagrange in 2017, Greenup in 2022, Lock and Dam 22 in 2022 and Lock and Dam 24 in 2024.   The recommendations also included numerous changes to the Corps’ management and processes of delivering projects designed to result in significant efficiencies including, but not limited to: risk based cost estimates, independent external peer reviews, project management certification for Corps project managers, early contractor involvement during the design phase, IWUB concurrence on new starts, IWUB status briefings, adopting applicable concepts from the Corps’ Military Construction program, developing design centers of expertise, standardizing designs, and re-examining the use of the continuing contracts clause.  The team believes these changes will result in projects being completed on time and on budget and reduce O & M expenditures.  The Corps/Industry Team noted that a premise upon which these predictions are based is that Congress will provide funding to each project as needed to ensure on time and cost efficient construction.   The Team recommended revisions to the current cost sharing policy for the Inland Waterways Trust Fund.  Under the proposal, new construction of Locks remains at 50% Federal / 50% IWTF cost share. Major Rehabs of Locks above $100 million remain at 50% Federal / 50% IWTF cost share and Major Rehabs under $100 million would be 100% Federal cost. All Dam work would be 100% Federal cost and a cost sharing cap would be implemented so that any projects that exceed the cap would thereafter be at 100% Federal cost.  The Team also recommended that the fuel tax remain as the funding mechanism for the IWTF and that the fuel tax be increased between 30% and 45% (or 6 to 9 cents) as needed to generate $110 million per year as industry’s share into the trust fund.

Again, the IWUB endorsed these recommendations and urged the Working Group to complete their final report based on the recommendations as presented on December 15th.  The final report should be presented to the IWUB at their next meeting on April 13, 2010 in Washington.