Celebrating 20 Years

20 Years of Success Advocating for America's Waterways

Founded in 2003, Waterways Council, Inc. celebrates 20 years of successes this year. WCI has worked hard to achieve a lot of wins, so join us for a look back at some of the highlights.

2024

JANUARY

WCI's full court press to the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee to include a provision in its Water Resources Development Act of 2024. A digital grassroots push puts 367 emails into legislators' inboxes, urging outreach to T&I. 

 

USDA issues a new report on the importance of waterborne transport to agriculture. USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service's “A Reliable Waterway System Is Important to Agriculture” reveals barges moved 53 percent of corn, 53 percent of soybeans, and 28 percent of wheat destined for export in CY2020.

 

A concrete sill failure causes a breach to the miter gates at Demopolis Lock on January 16, shutting down the Tombigbee and Black Warrior Rivers. Tows must reroute to the Mississippi River to transit from Tuscaloosa to Mobile and back, adding tens of hundreds of miles to their trips.

 

 

Watch the video here 

 

FEBRUARY 

WCI hosts its annual Washington Meetings at the Interncontinental Washington D.C. - The Wharf, providing members panoramic views of the Potomac River and beautiful weather to walk Capitol Hill. WCI members conduct more than 100 Hill meetings over the day to advocate for the nation's inland waterways.

 

The meetings are complemented by a grassroots digital advocacy push, putting nearly 400 emails into Congressional offices' inboxes during the week.

 

WCI Events Coordinator/Office Manager Amber McClay welcomes participants to WCI's Capitol Hill reception in the Dirksen Senate Office Building.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) receives the 21st WCI Leadership Service Award from Chair Cherrie Felder (Channel Shipyard). Also shown are (far left) Tracy Zea, WCI President/CEO and Jeff Webb, WCI First Vice Chair (Cargill)

 

WCI wishes Dustin Davidson (Director of Government Affairs) the best after its fly-in as he moves on to become Chief of Staff of the Department of Energy and Natural Resources for Louisiana Governor Jeff Landry's administration

 

MARCH 

The U.S. House of Representatives passes its FY24 Energy & Water Appropriations bill, with the Senate soon following, funding the Army Corps of Engineers through September 30, 2024. Passage of FY24 E&WD appropriations bill is a top WCI priority, as it avoids a catastrophic setback to the inland waterways’ construction program if Congress enacted a full-year Continuing Resolution (CR). Under a full-year CR, the most funding that inland waterways construction projects could receive is $59.3 million, nearly $400 million below what is in the FY24 bill.

 

 

WCI’s Jennifer Armstrong and Deb Calhoun (center) stand with National Defense University (NDU) Eisenhower School students on March 15 after making a presentation to the class on the importance of the inland waterways to the economy, the supply chain and national security. WCI has presented to NDU for more than 20 years, and this year, NDU celebrates its 100th anniversary.

 

MAY

Secretary Tom Vilsack tours UMR Lock & Dam 25 for his first time as head of USDA on May 3. He's joined by ASA (CW) Mike Connor and Rep. Nikki Budzinski (IL-13), along with United Soybean Board member Stan Born, and National Corn Growers Association vice president Kenny Hartman.

 

To illustrate the importance of ag exports, Vilsack notes that the U.S .trade deficit with the rest of the world over the previous three months was about $6 billion—which is almost exactly equal to the amount that soybean sales to China have fallen off.

 

 

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack addresses a crowd about the importance of constructing a 1,200-foot chamber at UMR Lock & Dam 25. (Photo by David Murray, Waterways Journal) 

 

WCI scores two major wins with the release of the Corps' FY24 workplan on May 13 with a record level $456 million in funding for inland waterways construction projects. A second win included a waiver of the cost-share from the Inland Waterways Trust Fund, keeping Congressional intent from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that projects in BIL should be federally funded. 

 

Without passage of the FY24 Energy & Water Development appropriations bill, the program could have faced devastating consequences of little funding, the mothballing of projects, and lengthening timelines for completion.

Learn more about the FY24 Work Plan here.

 

The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works passes its 2024 WRDA legislation on May 22. The bill recognizes Congressional intent to finish the seven inland waterways projects funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law through Appropriations, and recognizes the many other beneficiaries to locks and dams by adjusting the cost-share from IWTF to 75%/25%. 

 

View the Senate WRDA bill here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2023

FEBRUARY

After a two-year absence due to COVID-19, WCI members converge on Capitol Hill for WCI’s Washington Meetings and Fly-In. WCI's members conduct more than 100 Hill meetings over the day to advocate for the nation's inland waterways. The meetings are complemented by a grassroots digital advocacy push, putting more than 700 emails into Congressional offices' inboxes during the week.   

 

Fantastic weather and views of the Potomac highlight the InterContinental Hotel at the Wharf's first hosting of the event. Congressman Sam Graves (R, MO-06), Chairman of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, receives WCI’s 20th Annual Leadership Service Award.

President/CEO Tracy Zea (left) stands with WCI Board of Director Chair Cherrie Felder at WCI's Washington, DC meetings and Capitol Hill Fly-in.

Tracy Zea and Chair Felder present Rep. Sam Graves (R, MO-06) WCI's Leadership Service Award.

 

During the WCI Fly-in, newly elected Wisconsin Representative Derrick Van Orden (R-WI-03) (fourth from left) meets with Jeff Webb (Cargill), Kirsten Wallace (Upper Mississippi River Basin Association), Kevin Hall (CHS, Inc.) and Deb Calhoun (WCI).

Left to right: WCI CEO/President Tracy Zea, WCI Vice Chairman Jeff Webb (Cargill), WCI Chairman Cherrie  Felder (Channel Shipyard), Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) Michael Connor, and Inland Waterways Users Board Chairman Spencer Murphy (Canal Barge Company) gather in Washington, DC.             

 

MARCH

WCI continues public education outreach to groups representing diverse interests, including students from the National Defense University - Eisenhower School. A waterways tour of Nashville and Paducah with WCI staff and members are annual components of their transportation logistics curriculum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

APRIL 

 

The first groundbreaking for a NESP project occurs at UMR Lock 14 in LeClaire, Iowa. Construction of a mooring cell, designed to make lockage approaches more efficient, is the first of eight such structures planned for the Upper Mississippi under the Navigtation-Ecosystem Sustainability Program (NESP).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MAY

The Corps hosts two groundbreakings for NESP, commemorating construction of the fish passage ecosystem restoration project at Lock 22 in Saverton, MO, and construction of the new 1,200-foot chamber at Lock 25 in Winfield, MO on May 18.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WCI Vice Chairman Jeff Webb (Cargill) speaks at the groundbreaking for the new NESP lock at Lock and Dam 25

 

JUNE

WCI Executive Committee member Rodney Weinzierl (Illinois Corn Growers Association) receives the Rail & Maritime Summit’s Diolkos Award for outstanding vision and leadership.

Illinois Corn Growers Association's Jim Tarmann and Rodney Weinzierl, with Tracy Zea

 

Jen Armstrong joins WCI staff as Director, Government Relations in June

 

JULY

Chris Blanchard (Cooper T. Smith), WCI Treasurer and executive committee member, testifies before the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee on the industry’s resilience during the operational challenges created by the current low-water conditions on the inland waterway system.

 

 

 

 

NOVEMBER

WCI's first Chairman  Berdon Lawrence commemorates the organization's 20th anniversary.

Waterway 1 Review 101723.mp4

 

WCI celebrates its 20th anniversary with the 2023 Waterways Symposium at the Four Seasons New Orelans. Vue Orleans and Chair Cherrie Felder's Southern Yacht Club were the backdrops for the evening events.

 

 

WCI staff and Chair Cherrie Felder at the Southern Yacht Club in New Orleans

 

DECEMBER

 

WCI continues to be a voice for the industry during the second consecutive year of low water, one that challenged the industry and the Corps of Engineers. In December WCI participated in personal visits thanking the dredge crews for keeping our rivers open. Shown, from left, COL Andy Pannier, Commander of USACE St. Louis District, MG William Graham, Deputy Commanding General, Jaime Pinkham, Principal Deputy to the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works), WCI Secretary and executive committee member Marty Hettel (ACBL) and WCI Vice President-Midwest Area Paul Rohde aboard the dredge Goetz crew boat Taggatz.

2022

JANUARY
The Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act workplan is released by the Corps on January 19. The $2.5 billion in construction from IIJA includes Kentucky Lock (Tennessee River), Montgomery Lock (Upper Ohio), Upper Mississippi River Lock and Dam 25 (NESP – along with a fish passage project at L/D 22), erosion and flooding control at Three Rivers (Arkansas-White-Mississippi Rivers), and a major rehabilitation at T.J. O’Brien (Illinois Waterway).

 

MARCH

On March 30 the Administration released an additional $169.6 million tso fund Emsworth Lock (Upper Ohio) and McClellen-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (MKARNS) 12-foot deepening project.

 

MAY

WCI wins a Reed Award from Campaigns & Elections for its 2021 television ad "America's Waterways". It's honored as the best TV commercial for public policy pertaining to infrastructure.

 

WCI is also a finalist for the American Society for Association Executives’ Best TV ad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mike Ellis, CEO of American Commercial Barge Line, joins the May 26 'CNBC Special: Inflation USA' to discuss how inflation is hitting the cost of transporting goods around the country.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AUGUST

WCI is honored with the Conservation Innovation Award by the Soil and Water Conservation Society for its advocacy of NESP.  The award reads, in part, “Through NESP, there is a spotlight on America’s greatest river and education for the public on the need for its restoration through workable solutions that benefits all citizens of its watershed, regardless of income, ethnicity, or other status. The efforts of Waterways Council, Inc. are most deserving of the 2022 Conservation Innovation Award.”

 

OCTOBER

National media attention on the thirty-year low water levels on most of the inland system. WCI outreach highlights to the press the need for continued reliability of the system and multiple benefits of barge transportation to every consumer.  WCI monitors the funding situation for additional dredging to keep waterways open.

 

WCI launches its “Five on the Five” interviews with legislators.

 

 

 

 

 

National media attention is focused on the thirty-year low water levels on most of the inland system. WCI highlights to the press the need for continued reliability of the system and the multiple benefits of barge transportation to every consumer. 

 

 

NOVEMBER

Republicans take back control of the House for the first time since the 115th Congress. Kevin McCarthy is elected Speaker of the House in January 2023 after a historic 15 rounds of voting. Democrats maintain a slim Senate majority in the midterm elections to determine the 118th Congress.

 

DECEMBER

Cherrie Felder (Channel Shipyard) takes the gavel as WCI’s first female Board of Directors chair at #SYM22, WCI’s 19th Annual Waterways Symposium in Paducah.



Dan Mecklenborg and Tim Parker, both former WCI Chairs and Executive Committee members, receive the National Achievement Award from the National Rivers Hall of Fame.  

 


Both the House and Senate pass a WRDA bill that includes a removal of the 11-year sunset provision for the 35% Inland Waterways Trust Fund/65% General Funds cost-share adjustment. The IWTF now allows financing more projects, around $330 million/year.

 

WCI is also successful in urging WRDA to include a provision managing the Houston Ship Channel Barge Lanes to be dredged to deeper depths.

 

For the fourth WRDA, WCI successfully fights a provision to include authority of a lockage fee on shippers and carriers.WRDA ultimately passes as par of the FY23 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) along with authorization bills for the Coast Guard and MARAD.

 

WCI staff and executive committee members join Corps leadership and the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) Mike Connor aboard multiple dredges to thank them for their work over the past four months, keeping navigation channels open during the low-water period.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Big wins in 2022, but the lock and dam infrastructure continues to average almost 80 years of age, well beyond the engineered design life.

 

WCI was proud to share our 2022 Annual Report with membership. Thank you for your support! 

 

 

 

2021

JANUARY

The Inland Waterways Users Board, along with 41 other federal advisory committees were disbanded by new Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin for a “zero-based review”. The IWUB was reconstituted in late autumn, and repopulated in time for a virtual industry day meeting in December to provide updates on ongoing construction and authorized projects.  

 

The 118th Congress returns the power of the purse back to the legislative branch, this time in the form of Congressionally Directed Spending, after a decade-long ban on earmarks. WCI had been successful directing appropriations funds through the Corps' annual workplan during the earmark ban.  The return of specific funding of projects shifts WCI tactics through close but separate collaboration between Congress and the Army Corps of Engineers. Individual members of Congress are the focus to achieve funding for individual projects, consistent with the Inland Waterways Users Board Annual Recommendations to Congress and the Capital Investment Strategy.

 

FEBRUARY

The U.S. Capitol remains closed to visitors due to COVID-19. WCI hosts its first virtual Capitol fly-in.

 

Dustin Davidson joins WCI as Director, Government Relations on February 15, 2021

 

MAY

WCI launches “America’s Waterways” TV and social media campaign, based on footage filmed at New Orleans, Nashville, Paducah, and St. Louis. In the metro D.C. area, the commercial reaches almost 89% of adults in the market, viewing the commercial almost 3 times during the ad run.

 

JUNE

WCI launches its first Spotify playlist of songs to enjoy during the summer!

 

National Geographic airs an episode of “Breaking Bobby Bones” featuring life of a deckhand on Parker Towing Company.

The trailer featuring locks and dams for Emmy-nominated “Built to Last”, a series by ABC-TV (Chicago) airs

  

JULY

The House FY22 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill includes, for the first time in a decade, Congressionally-directed funding of specific projects, known as “Community Project Funding”.

 

AUGUST

The Emmy-nominated series "Built to Last" features the work of the closures of major maintenance along the Illinois Waterway and the major rehabilitation at LaGrange Lock and Dam. View the trailer here. 

 

WCI launches its "America's Waterways" campaign on metro DC television and online.

 

 


NOVEMBER

On November 15, President Biden signs H.R. 3684, the Infrastructure Invvestment and Jobs Act in to law, providing $2.5 billion of federal funding for construction and major rehabilitation of inland waterways projects. The Corps’ Operation and Maintenance account also received $4 billion. The spend plan is due January 15, 2022.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 18th Annual Waterways Symposium is held - in person - at Live at Loews in St. Louis. Nelly’s soundcheck makes the board meeting interesting. Peter Stephaich (Campbell Towing) and Joe Pine (Kirby Corporation) receive the National Rivers Hall of Fame Achievement Awards.

 

DECEMBER

 

2020

FEBRUARY

WCI hosts one of the last Fly-In at the U.S. Capitol, just prior to COVID-19. WCI honors Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) with the Leadership Service Award.  The Capitol will shut down from COVID-19 a few weeks later.

 

 

Deb Calhoun is named Interim President/CEO after Mike Toohey announces his retirement.

 

JULY

Tracy Zea, WCI’s Vice President of Government Relations, is named WCI’s fourth President/CEO on July 8.

 

After years of industry preparation for a four-month disruption, multiple major maintenances at locks and a major rehabilitation at LaGrange Lock closes the Illinois Waterway. Peoria, Starved Rock, Dresden Island, and LaGrange Locks are all dewatered for up to 120 days.

 

Watch Time Lapse Video of LaGrange Rehab, July-Oct 2020

 

AUGUST

WCI member Chicago District Council of Carpenters garner an Emmy nomination for its feature on locks and dams, Built to Last: Foundation of the Nation

 

WCI carries new state economic profiles to Capitol Hill. The new statistics from the National Waterways Foundation prove to be powerful state-specific data points.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SEPTEMBER

The Corps releases a draft of the Capital Investment Strategy , As outlined in greater detail in this report, in September 2020 the Corps submitted a draft of the Capital Investment Strategy (CIS) for the inland waterways. This report reflects significant partnership and work effort between the Corps and industry during 2020 to evaluate and prioritize the highest priority needs amongst our Nations’ overall aging and depleted waterways infrastructure. In accordance with Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 (WRRDA 2014), the Capital Investment Strategy is re-evaluated every five years and is intended to provide the funding priorities for infrastructure projects on the inland waterways. With the prospect of an infrastructure bill, the CIS provides a current roadmap that should be used for allocating additional project funding.

"Built to Last" captures scenes from the multi-lock closures for major maintenance and a rehabilitation at LaGrange Lock. Sen. Dick Durbin is one of the legislators featured.  

 

 

The Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters produce two segments for their Emmy-nominated Built to Last.

 

 

OCTOBER

WCI assists National Corn Growers Association with its social media campaign “Inland Waterways – Vital to America’s Corn Farmers” Tracy Zea provides a video message here.

 

NOVEMBER

COVID-19 forces the world to go virtual, including WCI as it hosts its first virtual Symposium via Zoom.

 

The disappointment of not being in person was overcome by the excitement of having 19 Senators and 80 House Representatives (from 20 different states) support a cost-share adjustment to the Inland Waterways Trust Fund, an effort led by Rep. Conor Lamb and Cong. Brian Babin. The eventual shift will be 65/35.

 

Crounse Corporation CEO Matt Ricketts takes the gavel as Chairman, 2020-2022.  

 

DECEMBER

Right before the 116th Congress adjourned, it continued the biennial process of enacting a Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). For the first time in WRDA history, WRDA 2020 was attached to the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 omnibus appropriations and COVID-19 relief package. For inland waterways stakeholders, this WRDA bill represents a major legislative achievement during difficult political and economic times. The major win for WCI was the adjustment of the inland waterways construction cost-share formula from 50% Inland Waterways Trust Fund (IWTF)/50% General Revenues to 35% IWTF/65% General Revenues for FY 2021 through FY 2031. Any project that is under construction during that time period will carry the new cost-share until construction of the project is completed. This adjustment will provide at least an additional billion dollars toward the modernization of the U.S. inland waterways transportation system. Other highlights of the WRDA bill and wins for the inland waterways industry include a 902 cost-limit increase for Kentucky Lock and a Chief’s Report authorization for the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway – Brazos River Floodgates and Colorado locks.

 

The cost-limit increase will allow work on Kentucky Lock to continue to completion, and the Chief’s Report will mean construction of new sector gates and channel widening to provide for more safe and efficient navigation while also helping with water and sediment management capabilities. WRDA hitchhiked its way to passage on the FY 2021 Omnibus package that included the Energy and Water Development appropriations bill that funds the Corps of Engineers’ Civil Works program. For the first time since 2004, a new lock project (called for in the bill but to be determined) will have the ability to begin construction with $113 million dollars appropriated from the IWTF, providing for an inland waterways construction program in FY21 at slightly less than $323 million. This will ensure the ability to fund Chickamauga Lock to completion and provide efficient funding for Kentucky Lock.

 

 

2019

FEBRUARY

Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) receives WCI’s Leadership Service Award from Wade Beasely (Chicago Carpenters Union), on February 12 at the Willard Hotel during WCI’s Washington Meetings. The Capitol will shut down from COVID-19 a few weeks later.

 

As a member of the Environment & Public Works Committee, she was a leader for inland waterways, especially the NESP program. Perhaps more interestingly, she has a unique appreciation for barge transportation, as, during her tenure as a captain in the Illinois Army National Guard, her aviation battalion transported equipment by barge. Her 1st battalion, 106th Aviation Regiment deployed by barge from Peoria, Illinois to the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana.

 

  MARCH

Former Chairman Matt Woodruff (Kirby Corporation) and WCI Board member Austin Golding (Golding Barge Line) testify before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation in a hearing on “The State of the American Maritime Industry.”

 

APRIL

Former Chairman Peter Stephaich (Campbell Transportation), and Board member Phyllis Harden (Pine Bluff Sand and Gravel Co.) are among many to testify before the House Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment.

 

JULY

WCI Executive Committee member and new Chairman of the Inland Waterways Users Board Rob Innis of LafargeHolcim testifieson July 10 before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee: “Water Resources Development Acts: Status of Implementation And Assessing Future Needs”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AUGUST

74-year old Kentucky Lock is closed for over a month to address aging structural and operating machinery components.

 

USDA releases the “Importance of Inland Waterways to U.S. Agriculture” report with a press conference and town hall meeting with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and ASA(CW) R.D. James highlighting three funding scenarios. An Increased Investment scenario leading, among other things, to a 39 percent/$72 billion increase in Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

 

Members of WCI's Executive Committee exhibit the "Work Hard, Play Hard" motto

 

NOVEMBER

WCI hosts the 16th Annual Wateways Symposium in the Duquesne Club, Pittsburgh, on November 5. Berdon Lawrence is honored as WCI’s founding Chairman. Senior Vice President Deb Calhoun and WCI staff are honored with the National Rivers Hall of Fame Achievement Awards. The event is precluded with a tour of the United Association’s Steamfitters Local 449 Training Center.

 

NWF intermodal update - with towboats moving a ton of cargo 647 ton-miles per gallon of fuel, compared to trucks moving it 145 miles for each gallon of fuel burned and locomotives transporting that cargo 477 ton-miles per gallon.

 

DECEMBER

Joe Pyne recounts the early days of Waterways Council at the tribute dinner to Berdon Lawrence

2018

FEBRUARY

Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) receives WCI’s Leadership Service Award during WCI’s Washington Meetings

 

 

 

 

 

SUMMER

Annual Photo Contest with RiverWorks Discovery and The Waterways Journal is a successful way to showcase how Waterways Build America, the theme of the 2018 contest.

 

Representatives from US Steel, former Pittsburgh USACE CDR, and Peter Stephaich during a site visit.

 

JULY

Mary Ann Bucci, Port of Pittsburgh, testified before the Senate Finance Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs, and Global Competitiveness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AUGUST

August 30: Ribbon cutting of Olmsted Locks and Dam

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOVEMBER

An unusual midterm election sees Republicans increase their Senate majority but Democrats take control of the House, 235-199, including a record number of women elected to that chamber.   

 

Mobile, Alabama hosts the 15th Annual Waterways Symposium as Chairman Tim Parker steps down and Peter Stephaich (Campbell Transportation) becomes WCI’s eighth chairman, 2018-2020.

   

 

ASA Civil Works RD James, speaker for the 15th Annual waterways Symposium.

USACE General Scott Spellmon, speaker for the 15th Annual waterways Symposium.

Mark Knoy receiving the National Acheivement Award.

 

DECEMBER

2017

JANUARY

Longtime editor of Capitol Currents Harry Cook passes away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harry and Delores Cook

MARCH

Representative Bob Gibbs (R, OH-07) receives WCI’s 16th Leadership Service Award on March 21 during WCI’s Washington Meetings. As a Transportation & Infrastructure Committee member and Chair of the Water Resources and Environment Subcomittee, Rep. Gibbs was instrumental in the 2014 incorporation of the project delivery reforms recommended in the Capital Development Plan. Where only Olmsted dam construction had been underway, WRDA 2014, along with the 45-percent increase in the commercial fuel tax, opened the door for four projects to be simultaneously constructed.  

 

The Corps’ David Dale receives the Waterways Counsel Award.

 

WCI takes an updated intermodal comparison study up to Capitol Hill.  A Modal Comparison of Domestic Freight Transportation Effects on the General Public: 2001-2014 (January 2017underscores the many advantages of waterway transportation over other surface modes.

 

WCI takes a new study up to Capitol Hill. “The Impacts of Unscheduled Lock Outages”, prepared for the National Waterways Foundation and the U.S. Maritime Administration, looks at the economic brunt of closures at four regionally-diverse locations.

 

Sen. Tammy Duckworth transits through Upper Mississippi River Lock 15 with WCI members

 

JUNE

President Trump’s first official trip to Ohio as president - June 7, 2017. An Ingram tow is the background for his remarks at Cincinnati’s Rivertowne Marina about the need for new federal spending on infrastructure.

 

AUGUST

WCI hosts its third annual media tour, held in the New Orleans area. WCI members host Senators, House Members, and media on a barge tour through Lock and Dam 15 on the Upper Mississippi River.

WCI staff Deb Calhoun and Tracy Zea on one of many site visits with WCI members and media

 

SEPTEMBER

WCI and RiverWorks Discovery launch the #RiversMoveAmerica online photo contest to raise awareness of the importance of waterways transportation.

 

OCTOBER

Executive Committee member Dan Mecklenborg (Ingram Barge) testifies before a House Transporation & Infrastructure Committee Roundtable. “America’s Water Resources Infrastructure: Concepts for the Next Water Resources Development Act (WRDA),” kicks off preparations for a 2018 WRDA.

Past Chairman and Executive Committee member Dan Mecklenborg

 

The National Waterways Foundation releases "The Impacts of Unscheduled Lock Outages", an economic analysis of the detrimental affects of unscheduled closures that resonates as a rationale for robust Operations & Maintenance funding in subsequent years. 

 

NOVEMBER

Mobile, Alabama hosts WCI’s 14th Annual Waterways Symposium at the Battle House Hotel. Attendees enjoy a special reception at the National Maritime Museum of the Gulf of Mexico. Representative Garret Graves, LA-06, joined us as a speaker.

John Wepfer, Molly Isnardi (URS), and Kyle Makarios.

Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, Tim Parker, and Lt. Gen Mark Toy join a guest at WCI's 14th Annual Waterways Symposium.

Tim Parker and Cathy Hammond.

It was a big four weeks for WCI Executive Committee member and Treasurer Cherrie Felder (Channel Shipyard Companies), the newest recipient of the National Rivers Hall of Fame Achievement Award. A month later she received the Seaman’s Church Institute Distinguished Service Award.

 

DECEMBER

Past WCI Chairman Tim Parker (Parker Towing) testifies before the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee’s Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee, focusing on the need for investment to keep America competitive.   

 

2016

FEBRUARY

WCI Board member Caryl Pfeiffer (LG&E and KU) testifies before the U.S. House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee supporting WRDA 2016. Other WCI member companies provide testimony at multiple House and Senate hearings in 2016, as WRDA gains traction.

 

 

 

Vice President Joe Biden visits the Port of New Orleans on February 17 and said, “Look, from the very beginning as a nation, we knew the key to conquering this vast continent was to have the most modern transportation system in the world. And that was over 200 years ago. The history of the journey of this country is build, build, build, build. The first national road in American history was built from Maryland to Illinois, with federal dollars. The Erie Canal, 363 miles long, and it went on to generate 12,000 miles of inland waterways across 36 states, generating hundreds of billions of dollars of growth and capital.”

 

MARCH

Representative Daniel Lipinski (D, IL-03) receives WCI’s 15th Annual Leadership Service Award March 15 during WCI’s Washington Meetings at the Madison Hotel. The Corps’ Jeanine Hoey receives the Waterway Counsel Award.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Corps releases its FY16 workplan, which includes advancement of construction at Olmsted dam, Lower Mon Locks 2,3,4, Kentucky Lock, and Chickamauga Lock

WCI members work to pass a policy resolution through the National Lieutenant Governors Association in support of the Capital Development Plan.

 

APRIL

The Senate Environment & Public Works Committee passses its WRDA legislation on April 28 with a provision to remove the five year/no funding  - deauthorization rule until Olmsted is completed.  

 

JUNE  

WCI fields media attention as a third set of locks opens at the Panama Canal. Three broken wicket dams at Lock 52 on the Ohio would get the phones ringing again In September.

 

AUGUST

WCI hosts its second annual media tour at LaGrange Lock & Dam on the Illinois Waterway (joined by Illinois Lt. Governor Eleanor Sanguinneti) and Mel Price Locks and Dam on the Upper Mississippi River.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SEPTEMBER

In the shadow of a water crisis in Flint, Michigan, the House passes its version of WRDA, H.R. 5303, beforce recessing to campaign for the upcoming elections.  

 

NOVEMBER

The Republican Party retains their majority in both the House and the Senate, and, with inauguration of Donald Trump on January 20, 2017, attain an overall federal government trifecta for the first time since the 109th Congress in 2005. The GOP holds a 51-47 Senate majority (with two Independents caucasing with the Democrats) in the 115th Congress.  

 

Tim Parker (Parker Towing) assumes the gavel as WCI’s seventh chairman, 2016-2018 at the 13th Annual Waterways Symposium in Cincinnati, Ohio. Attendees celebrate RiverWorks Discovery’s 10th anniversary.

Incoming Chairman Tim Parker

 

MARAD Administrator Paul Jaenichen at WCI's 2016 Symposium

 

Robin Harmon (Hancock Whitney) and Spencer Murphy (Canal Barge)

The National Rivers Hall of Fame presents Lifetime Achievement Awards to past Chairman Rick Calhoun (Cargill) and immediate past WCI Chairman Merritt Lane (Canal Barge Company)

 

2016 Symposium speaker: Agricultural journalist Jim Wiesemeyer

 

2016 Symposium Commodities Panel

 


Rodney Weinzierl and Jim Tarmann (Illinois Corn)

 

Sunday, November 27th New York TImes Business Section features "Choke Point of a Nation", a feature on the importance of inland waterways and its infrastructure needs and challenges. 

 

DECEMBER

President Barack Obama signs WRDA 2016 into law on December 16, as part of the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act. The House and Senate keep their intention to make WRDA a biennial legislation, having passed it the week prior. Highlights of the bill include the omission of a provision that would have opened up lock funding to privatization and additional fees, a result of a WCI-led effort in spring that led to 75 organizations signing a letter of opposition. The bill also added a provision to remove the five year/no funding de-authorization rule until Olmsted’s completion.

2015

FEBRUARY

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Senator David Vitter (R-LA) receive WCI’s 14th Leadership Service Award on February 15 during WCI’s Spring Seminar.

Sen. Alexander, chair of the Senate Appropriations’ Energy & Water Subcommittee, has been a steadfast champion of waterways, especially the Chickamauga Lock near Chatanooga.

Sen. Vitter, the Ranking Member of the Environment & Public Works Committee, co-authored WRRDA 2014, championed the cost-share adjustment to finish Olmsted dam, and was instrumental in seeing the diesel fuel tax increase the industry requested, to provide more funds out of the Inland Waterways Trust Fund for priority constructoin projects.   

 


WCI member Ingram Barge Co. hosts the New York Times for a featured article

"Barges Sit or Hours Behind Locks, May Take Decades to Replace"

 

 

 

 

 

 

APRIL

WCI hosts news media at LaGrange and Peoria Locks, with summer media events at Chickamauga, and Kentucky Locks

 

The WCI-sought  9-cent increase to the inland waterway commercial diesel fuel user fee goes into effect April 1.

 

JUNE

The one-year anniversary of WRRDA provides a backdrop for the House Water Resources & Environment Subcommittee to call for the Corps to implement provisions in a timelier manner. At the time of the hearing only 38% had been enacted. Ranking Member Pete DeFazio (D, OR-04) lauds the 9-cent-per-gallon diesel fuel tax increase that occurred last December as an example of the inland waterways industry and Congress attempting to do their parts to increase investment in the nation’s river transportation system.

 

JULY

The Corps announces its on pace to make Olmsted operational almost two years ahead of the 2012 Post Authorization Change Report (PACR).

 

AUGUST

Tracy Zea joins WCI's staff.

 

NOVEMBER

U.S. House Transportation & Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster (R, PA-09) and Water Resources & Environment Subcommittee Chair Bob Gibbs (R, OH-07) join six other T&I members in a listening session in New Orleans to kick off the WRDA process for 2016. WCI’s Immediate Past Chairman Matt Woodruff is among those testifying.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Omni Royal New Orleans hosts the 12th Annual Waterways Symposium.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Former WCI Chairman Mark Knoy (ACBL) receives the National Rivers Hall of Fame's National Achievement Award, presented by Jerry Enzler.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A study conducted for the National Waterways Foundation by researchers from the University of Kentucky (UK) and the University of Tennessee (UT) concludes that, if the inland waterways system were to be eliminated tomorrow, nearly 550,000 domestic jobs, $29 billion in corresponding income, and $125 billion in aggregate economic output would be lost in just the first year alone.

 

 

DECEMBER

The annual Report to Congress by the Inland Waterways Users Board cites The Corps of Engineers has estimated the replacement value of the infrastructure that supports our inland waterways to be more than $260 billion.i According to Corps of Engineers statisticians, during the 2010 to 2013 timeframe, Civil Works Program expenditures for inland navigation generated an annual average of $8.24 billion in net national economic development (NED) benefits for our domestic economy and $2.27 billion in U.S. Treasury revenue.

 

Longtime Capitol Currents editor Harry Cook retires.

2014

JANUARY

The FY14 Energy & Water Appropriations bill shifts the cost-share for Olmsted construction to 75%/25% for FY14 only.

 

FEBRUARY

Dual Leadership Service Awards were presented in 2014 to recognize the work to get the Capital Development Plan into legislation.

Shown is Rep. Ed Whitfield (R, KY-01) with past WCI Chairman Steve Little (Crounse Corporation) during WCI's Washington Meetings, held February 12 at the St. Regis Hotel.

Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) received his award from WCI Board members Peter Stephaich (Campbell Transportation) and Mary Ann Bucci (Port of Pittsburgh) later in the spring.

 

MAY

The editors of Professional Mariner magazine award WCI their Samuel Plimsoll Award:

 

Waterways Council Inc. (WCI) received the award for outstanding service by an organization. WCI is the leading champion supporting greater government funding for an efficient national system of inland waterways. Based in Arlington, Va., WCI has rallied support from carriers, shippers, port authorities, agriculture, labor, conservation groups and other associations that favor modernizing and repairing the aging network of locks, dams and other navigation infrastructure.

 

Samuel Plimsoll (1824-1898) was a member of Parliament in Britain who fought against unsafe maritime industry practices, especially the overloading of ships. His efforts led to passage of the Unseaworthy Ships Bill in 1878, which required ships to have marks indicating safe load lines.

The Plimsoll marks on ships today are an enduring testimony to his tireless pursuit of safety at sea. Professional Mariner proudly presents its Plimsoll Awards each year to individuals and organizations that embody the spirit of Samuel Plimsoll.


 

 

 

 

WCI is among NGOs and the Corps to win first place in the 2014 National Association for Interpretation Media Awards, Curriculum Division for Our Mississippi: Educational Activities About the Upper Mississippi River. The curriculum guide features WCI information pertaining to navigation.

 

The Water Resources Reform & Development Act (WRRDA) 2014 conference committee report is agreed to and signed May 8.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JUNE

President Obama signs the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 into law.

 

The Water Resources Reform & Development Act (WRRDA) 2014 is enacted June 10, after a seven-year gap since the previous WRDA legislation. WRRDA contains many recommendations to improve the Corps inland waterway project construction delivery model developed by a team of Corps and industry inland navigation experts, and advocated on Capitol Hill by WCI. WRRDA authorizes an increase in the threshold for major rehabilitation designation to $20 million, from $14 million.

  

It also sets deadlines on the time (3 years) and cost ($3 million) of studies. Most importantly, WRRDA provides a 85%/15% cost-share adjustment to finish construction of Olmsted dam.

 

That, combined with the increased revenue from the IWTF as a result of the commercial diesel tax increase later the same year, frees up as much as $105 million annually to fund other projects, and allows Olmsted to finish four years and $330 million below its last Post Authorization Change Report (PACR).

 

The last of the 18 tainter gate shells are set at Olmsted and places its first paving block a month later. The project transitions to construction of the navigable pass.

 

JULY

Eighty organizations mobilize to request the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee a voluntary increase of the diesel fuel taxes that pay into the Inland Waterways Trust Fund. The effort will prove ultimately successful later in the year. 

 

NOVEMBER

WCI moves its headquarters out of Arlington, Virginia to its current location, within walking distance of the Capitol.

 

The midterm election of President Barack Obama’s second term sees the GOP control the Senate, 54-44 (with two Independents caucusing with Democrats). It was a net gain of nine seats, the largest for either party in the Senate since 1980. Republicans retain control of the House for the 114th Congress, gaining thirteen seats, giving them their largest majority in the House since the 1928 elections.

 

A study conducted for the National Waterways Foundation by researchers from the University of Kentucky and the University of Tennessee concluded that, if the inland waterways system were to be eliminated tomorrow, nearly 550-thousand domestic jobs, $29 billion in corresponding income, and $125 billion in aggregate economic output would be lost in just the first year alone.

 

Outgoing Chairman Matt Woodruff (Kirby Corporation) hands over the gavel to Merritt Lane (Canal Barge Line) as WCI’s sixth chairman, 2014-2016. The iconic Drake Hotel in Chicago hosts the 11th Annual Waterways Symposium. Attendees enjoy dinner with a view of the city skyline at the top of the Hancock Building.

 

DECEMBER

WCI members successfully lobby Congress to approve the industry-sought 9-cent increase in the inland waterway diesel fuel user fee with overwhelming bipartisan support, as part of H.R. 647 (the Achieving a Better Life Experience, or ABLE Act of 2014).  It is ultimately signed into law as part of H.R. 5771, extending expired tax provisions, Public Law 113-295). This provides significant additional funds to the Inland Waterways Trust Fund for inland waterway construction and rehabilitation funding. The increase goes into effect April 1, 2015.

 

It's the fifth 2014 WCI priority to go into effect, with four other elements of the Capital Development Plan authorized in WRRDA 2014

 

Congress also shows support for inland waterweays through continued strong lock and dam construction appropriations for Fiscal Year 2015 in the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 (Public Law 113-235), and strong appropriations both in Fiscal Years 2014 and 2015 for the operation and maintenance of the Nation’s waterways.

2013

 

JANUARY

Challenges from low water persist into the new year, as the drought conditions of 2012 show little sign of relief in 2013. Operational challenges and media attention toward river commerce that started in early autumn 2012 will carry over into spring.  

 

FEBRUARY

Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) receives WCI’s 12th Annual Leadership Service Award during WCI’s Washington Meetings at the Loews Madison Hotel.  

Senator Durbin (D-IL) receivees WCI's Leadership Service Award from Illinois Corn Growers President Paul Taylor. Sen. Durbin also receives a sample of the rock pinnacles removed from Thebes and Grand Tower, IL that caused so much havoc in the middle stretch of the Mississippi River during the low water period of 2012.  

 

 

Senator Bob Casey introduces the “Reinvesting In Vital Economic Rivers and Waterways (RIVER) Act, S. 407 with co-sponsors Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Sen. Lamar Alexander (R, TN), Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS). The RIVER Act incorporates the elements of the Capital Development Plan.

Peter Stephaich (Campbell Transportation) and Sen. Bob Casey

 

MARCH

Representative Ed Whitfield (R, KY-01) and Representative Dan Lipinski (D, IL-01) introduce the bipartisan “Waterways Are Vital to the Economy, Energy, Efficiency & Environment”, WAVE4 Act. H.R. 1149 comprises the essentials of the Capital Development Plan and has 30 bipartisan co-sponsors. It was the second time Rep. Whitfield co-sponsored WAVE4, as it was previously introduced in the 112th Congress with now-retired Rep. Jerry Costello (D, IL-12).

 

 

 

 

 

The new 113th Congress brings a new chairman to the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee as Rep. John Mica (R, FL-07) is term-limited as chair. Rep. Bill Shuster (R, PA-09) assumes the gavel. Rep. Nick Rahall (D, WV-03)  remains as Ranking Member.

 

 

APRIL

WCI Secretary Peter Stephaich (Campbell Transportation Co.) testifies before the House Transportation & Infrastructure's Subcommittee on Water Resources & Environment on April 16 in support of a WRDA.

 

AUGUST

WCI picks up more co-sponsors to the WAVE-4 Act. 27 co-sponsors now join Representative Ed Whitfield (R-KY-01) and Representative Dan Lipinski (D, IL-01). A related bill in the Senate, S. 407, the “Reinvesting in Vital Economic Rivers and Waterways” or the River Act, whose chief sponsors are Sen. Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA) and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN). It has five other co-sponsors: Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Mary L. Landrieu (D-LA) and Pat Roberts (R-KS).  

 

The Senate passes its version of a Water Resources Development Act for the first time in six years. It contains several elements of the RIVER Act, provisions including recommendations from the Capital Development Plan. The House picks up more cosponsors for H.R. 1149, the WAVE-4 Act, totaling 20. WRDA ultimately will have to wait until 2014.

 

NOVEMBER

WCI celebrates its 10th Annual Waterways Symposium in Memphis at the historic Peabody Hotel. Attendees enjoyed a private dinner at the world-famous Orpheum Theatre and private tour of RiverWorks Discovery’s Mississippi River exhibit at the Mud Island Museum.

2012

JANUARY

The cost of completing Olmsted Locks and Dam, located on the Ohio River only 17 miles from its confluence with the Mississippi, is revealed to have increased to $2.9 billion. Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) Jo Ellen Darcy told a Corps of Engineers’ budget briefing that the latest estimate does not include an inflation escalator.

The industry braces for a final cost of an additional hundreds of millions of dollars. The completion date for the Olmsted L&D project, authorized in 1988 and begun in 1993, is now projected to be no sooner than 2022, much later than Corps officials told Congress only a year earlier (the project’s cost had increased to $2.046 billion and the completion date pushed back to 2016). Twin 1,200-ft. locks were finished more than 10 years ago, but placement of the huge dam components, fabricated on land and then floated into position, has slowed the pace of the dam construction.

 

 

WCI's website features a call to support WAVE4 legislation

 

FEBRUARY

Representative Nick Rahall (D, WV-03) receives WCI’s 11th Leadership Service Award on February 15. The Ranking Member of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, at the time he’d served on T&I for 34 years, his entire tenure in Congress, and was a key architect of WRDA bills.

 

WCI Chairman Matt Woodruff presented the award, with Melinda Rahall attending.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rep. Ed Whitfield (R,KY-01) and Rep. Jerry Costello (D, IL-12) introduce the “WAVE4 Act: Waterways are Vital for the Economy, Energy, Efficiency, and Environment”, a comprehensive package of recommendations from the Capital Development Plan.

 

The February issue of Capitol Currents features the following article:

 

APRIL

Chairman Bob Gibbs (R, OH-07) hosts a Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee hearing on April 18 on the relationship between reliability of the inland waterways system and economic competitiveness.

 

Past WCI Chairman WCI Mark Knoy (American Commercial Lines LLC and Jeffboat, Inc.) and WCI Board member Marty Hettel (American Electric Power (AEP), River Operations) drive home the need to adopt the Capital Development Plan in their testimonies. Representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, agriculture sector, energy sector, economics profession, and engineering services sector provided testimony about the economic importance of a reliable inland waterways system.

 

From left: USACE MG John Peabody, Mark Knoy (representing ACBL), and Marty Hettel (representing the Inland Waterways Users Board) testify before the House Energy & Water Subcommittee of the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee.

 

WCI takes new findings on intermodal comparisons to Capitol Hill, as the National Waterways Foundation releases an updated revision of Texas A&M’s Texas Transportation Institute Center for Ports and Waterways 2007 study. Figures comparing environmental, energy, and safety impacts reveal the overwhelming advantages of barge transportation. 

 

MAY

A stakeholders’ meeting in Cincinnati revealed dire consequences for other lock projects as a result of Olmsted’s mounting cost. WCI members meet with the Corps to examine various funding alternatives for Olmsted L&D (status quo vs. a slowdown or 2-, 4-, or 6-year project pause) and also review updated priority lists for completing 20-plus other construction and rehabilitation projects.

As printed in the June issue of Capitol Currents: Assuming funding of $150 million annually (with one-half from the IWTF), Olmsted L&D could be operational in 2020 and completed in 2024, said Richard A. Hancock, the Corps’ regional business director for the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division. It would be many years, however, before other pending projects were completed: Mon Locks 2-4 partly operational in 2027 and complete in 2033, Kentucky Lock Addition by 2040, Chickamauga replacement lock by 2051, Upper Mississippi L&D 25 1,200-ft. lock addition by 2064, LaGrange lock addition by 2070, Inner Harbor lock replacement by 2077. Similarly, major rehabilitation projects could be delayed for long periods: Mississippi L&D 25 wouldn’t be completed until 2053, Lower Monumental on the Snake River until 2065, Greenup Dam until 2079, J.T. Myers Dam until 2081, Mel Price L&D until 2086, etc.

 

The Corps of Engineers reports that more than $4 billion has been lost in “benefits foregone and not recoverable” as a result of project delays. Most of the lost benefits are at Olmsted L&D, which amount to $2.7 billion. Mon River L&Ds 2-4 had the second highest total of benefits foregone, totaling $870 million. The current funding glide-path, the Corps said, would delay completion of the nation’s highest priority projects a total of 52 years, which it called “a national tragedy.”

 

 

JUNE

After a 14-month hiatus, a newly constituted Inland Waterways User Board meets in Pittsburgh, with its gavel in the hands of a new chairman, Larry R. Daily, president of Alter Logistics, Inc.

 

H.R. 4342,the “Waterways Are Vital for the Economy, Efficiency, and Environment Act of 2012” or WAVE-4, continues to garner co-sponsors, to a total to date of 15.  

 

SEPTEMBER

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chair Barbara Boxer (D-CA) calls a hearing September 20 to build support for the first WRDA since 2007.  

 

WCI immediate past Chair Rick Calhoun (Cargill) testifies at the Committee’s request in support of the Capital Development Plan at the Committee’s hearing on “Water Resources Development Act: Growing the Economy and Protecting Public Safety.”

 

 

 

 

WCI’s Executive Committee convenes in D.C. to add Capitol Hill meetings to its usual strategic planning meetings.

Low water causes an allision with a rock-filled steel cell at Upper Mississippi River Lock 27. WCI generates media attention, prompting six Midwestern Senators to call for a start of lock construction, authorized five years ago.  

 

OCTOBER

Low water continues to plague the Mississippi River for months. Flows from the Missouri River reservoirs are scheduled to cease, compounding the problem for the Middle Mississippi River. Dangerous levels threaten shipping. WCI urges the Administration, Congress, and governors to implore the Corps to remove rock pinnacles near Thebes and Grand Tower, Illinois, to keep the navigation channel open. The effort proves successful.  

 

Sen. Dick Durbin addresses the rock pinnacle situation near Thebes, IL and Grand Tower, IL.

 

During the record low water experienced on the inland waterways during late 2012 and early 2013, the main navigation channels on the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers did not completely close to traffic. There were some channel restrictions and traffic delays, but the rivers remained open. This is a testament to the collaboration of the navigation community and the Federal government, and the Corps efforts to focus available resources and dredging equipment to minimize impacts to waterborne traffic.

 

Legislators, Corps leadership, and stakeholders meet at the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center in Alton, IL to discuss low water. Shown are (L-R) Illinois Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon, Rep. John Shimkus (R, IL-19), Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Rep. Jerry Costello (D, IL-12) and MG John Peabody.

 

Extensive media attention provides WCI an opportunity to educate about the importance of barge transportation on America’s inland waterways to not only every American but millions across the globe.  

 

NOVEMBER

President Barack Obama wins reelection over Mitt Romney to a second term and Democrats gain seats in both chambers of Congress, although the GOP retains control of the House. The 113th Congress sees the Democrat majority in the Senate at 53-45 (with two Independents caucusing with the Democrats)  Senator Frank Lautenberg’s (D-NJ) June 3, 2013 death briefly changes the Senate number, until October 31, 2013 when Cory Booker (D-NJ) replaced Chiesa.

 

November 15, 2012, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a second hearing on draft legislation developed by the Committee’s Chairwoman, Senator Barbara Boxer of California. The legislative draft contained many elements of the Capital Development Plan.

 

The 9th Annual Waterways Symposium, “Riding the WAVE4 Jobs: Waterways Keep Hard-Working Americans Hard at Work” is held November 13-15 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Houston. The event features an evening event at Johnson Space Center.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DECEMBER

The 25th Annual Report of the IWUB lists a September 2024 completion date for Olmsted Locks and Dam construction. WCI’s work on

funding through the coming years allowed for Olmsted’s opening of 2018.

 

The first 30 cubic yards of rock pinnacles near Thebes, IL are removed. 860 more cubic yards to go, for the short term.

 

 

2011

FEBRUARY

After gaining control of the House from the 2010 elections and the rise of the Tea Party, Speaker John Boehner bans “directed congressional spending”, more commonly known as earmarks.

 

Rep. Hal Rogers (R, KY-05) receives WCI’s 10th Annual Leadership Service Award from WCI President/CEO Cornel Martin.

 

WCI’s board of directors agrees with the recommendation from the WCI Priorities Task Force to adopt project priorities based on the recommendations by the “Inland Marine Transportation System Investment Strategy Working Group”. In addition to a 20-year project priority process, the working group rolled out recommendations affecting project delivery improvements, a capital investment strategy, and stabilizing the funding through cost-share adjustments and cost overrun protections. The recommendation becomes commonly known as the Capital Development Plan (CDP) and guides WCI priorities for the next decade. The Inland Waterways Users Board adopts the CDP in April. WCI members introduce the CDP in House and Senate testimonies in April, May and November.

 

House Energy Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Ed Whitfield (R, KY-01) offers to lead a bipartisan effort to enact the CDP into law.  The WAVE-4 Act (Economy, Energy, Efficiency, Environment) would be introduced in the second session in January 2012.  

 

MARCH

WCI launches its first online grassroots advocacy program, “Frontlines”.

 

JUNE

For the first time since the Inland Waterways Users Board’s inception,  all IWUB members’ terms were allowed to expire, thus producing no IWUB report to Congress. The terms remained lapsed into inactive status for 10 months. The U.S. House of Representatives Committee Report accompanying the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2012 “encourages the Administration to work with industry and the appropriate committees of the Congress to develop an equitable solution to this problem as soon as possible.”

 

SEPTEMBER

WCI lobbying for funding the rehabilitation of Markland Locks and Dam on the Ohio River is successful, as September marks the setting of the first two gates, part of its major rehabilitation that began in 2009.

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OCTOBER

Matt Woodruff (Kirby Corporation) assumes the gavel from Rick Calhoun (Cargill) as WCI’s fifth chairman, 2011-2014, at the Board of Directors meeting. The 8th Annual Waterways Symposium is held at the Omni William Penn Hotel in Pittsburgh.

 Chairman Matt Woodruff with his wife Margaret

 

 

A security camera captures 280 linear feet of the left descending bank of Lockport Lock slides into the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal on October 7, taking with it seven concrete monliths on the face of the Canal wall, approximately six feet thick.

2010

JANUARY

WCI’s Board of Directors holds a special meeting to approve the Inland Marine Transportation System Capital Investment Strategy, a project between the Corps and industry to develop a series of recommendations to improve project delivery of lock and dam construction and rehabilitation. This puts into motion priorities for the next several WRDAs and outreach to House and Senate to achieve those priorities.

 

FEBRUARY

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) receives WCI’s 9th Annual Leadership Service Award at the W Hotel on February 24.  

MARCH

In March 2010, the House Appropriations Committee implemented rules to ban earmarks to for-profit corporations. A complete ban on Congressionally-directed spending will take affect less than a year later. 

 

MAY

WCI produces a video “Keep America Moving” 

 

OCTOBER

The St. Paul Hotel hosts WCI’s 7th Annual Waterways Symposium in St. Paul, Minnesota. Attendees enjoy unseasonably warm weather during a rooftop reception at the Science Museum of Minnesota. 

 

NOVEMBER

The Great Recession, Affordable Care Act, and Tea Party movement impact President Barack Obama’s first midterm election. Republicans take over the majority in the House, with a net gain of 63 seats, the largest shift in seats since the 1940 elections. For the 112th Congress, the GOP  gains seven Senate seats (including a special election in January 2010), although Democrats retain Senate majority 51-47, with 2 Independents caucusing with Democrats. 

2009

FEBRUARY

Representatives Pete Visclosky (D, IN-01) and John Mica (R, FL-07) are among Congressional speakers at WCI’s 8th Annual Spring Seminar at the Sofitel Hotel in Washington. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) receives WCI’s Leadership Service Award, and the event culminates in a tribute dinner to Barry Palmer as he sets to retire at year's end.         

 

Larry Daily (Alter Barge Line) meets with Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and longtime staffer Richard Bender during WCI's 8th annual Washington Meetings.

               

  

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) is signed into law by President Obama on February 17th.

 

The Administration states the Act "is an unprecedented effort to jumpstart our economy, create or save millions of jobs, and put a down payment on addressing long-neglected challenges so our country can thrive in the 21st century. The Act is an extraordinary response to a crisis unlike any since the Great Depression, and includes measures to modernize our nation's infrastructure, enhance energy independence, expand educational opportunities, preserve and improve affordable health care, provide tax relief, and protect those in greatest need."

 

ARRA planning originally omitted funding the Corps of Engineers, but after much effort by WCI, $430 million is included for navigation out of the $4.6 billion for the Corps’ Civil Works mission, with no matching funds required from the Inland Waterways Trust Fund.

 

MARCH

McAlpine Locks and Dam (Louisville, KY) dedicates its new 1,200-foot lock chamber after 10 years of construction and an authorization dating back to WRDA 1990. The virtually identical lock chamber sitting next to it was constructed in just 3 years (1958-1961).

 

SEPTEMBER

The 1,200-foot chamber at Markland Lock fails on September 27 due to a solenoid function. The lock was repaired and reopened on March 1, 2010 after 155 days. The 600-foot lock continued to lock traffic albeit with delays.

Outgoing Chairman Dan Mecklenborg (Ingram Barge Co.) and retiring WCI President/CEO Barry Palmer

 

OCTOBER

Rick Calhoun (Cargill) becomes WCI’s fourth chairman (2009-2011) at the 6th Annual Waterways Symposium at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in New Orleans. Cornel Martin officially succeeds Barry Palmer as WCI President/CEO after several months of integration into the organization.

 

DECEMBER

WCI becomes a regular contributor to MarineLog and Marine News.

2008

JANUARY

WCI’s lobbying for funding sees the new 110’x800’ lock chamber become operational at Marmet Locks on the Kanawha River, part of the Ohio River System. Authorized in 1996, construction of the new chamber began in 2002. The Corps estimates the previous 4-5 hours for locking five barge through will now take 45-50 minutes. The rest of the work is completed September 2009.

 

FEBRUARY

The Seventh Annual Leadership Service Award is presented to Rep. James Oberstar (DFL, MN-08), Chairman of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, on February 27 at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel.

 

 

WCI President/CEO Barry Palmer with Rep. Nick Rahall (D, WV-03). Rep. Rahall is the longest-serving member ever of the United States House of Representatives from the state of West Virginia.

 

MG Michael Walsh (Commander, USACE Mississippi Valley Division) and WCI Chairman Dan Mecklenborg (Ingram Barge Co.) at WCI's Washington Meetings.

 

APRIL 

Barry Palmer announces his retirement, effective the end of 2009. An exerpt From the WCI press release: 

Palmer began his career in the waterways industry in May 1981 as Executive Director of DINAMO, the Association for the Development of Inland Navigation in ’s .  During his 22-year tenure with DINAMO, Palmer provided strong advocacy for construction Barry and Ruthie Palmer authorization of waterway infrastructure projects on the and its tributaries.  These included Robert C. Byrd, Ohio River; Grays Landing and Point Marion, Monongahela River; Winfield, Kanawha River; Olmsted Lock and Dam and McAlpine, Ohio River; Lower Mon 2, 3 & 4; Marmet and London, Kanawha River; Kentucky Lock, Tennessee River; and Greenup and John T. Myers auxiliary chamber extensions.  Also included was major rehabilitation of Emsworth, Dashields, and Montgomery Locks and Dam in the mid-1980s.

 

AUGUST

A “white paper working group” Is formed among industry and the Corps of Engineers to examine case studies on construction and address a way to develop a consensus-based, comprehensive approach to improving the Corps’ project delivery system.  

 

NOVEMBER

The 2008 presidential election is the first since 1952 that didn’t feature an incumbent president or vice president as a candidate. With the highest voter turnout in four decades, one-term Senator from Illinois Barack Obama and Joe Biden defeat the GOP ticket of John McCain and Sarah Palin.

 

Democrats win the largest Senate gain since 1986. The election, combined with Arlen Specter’s party switch, creates a brief supermajority for Democrats of 60-40 in the 111th Congress. Democrats gain 21 House seats for a total of 257, the largest number of seats held by either party in the House since Democrats lost control of Congress in the 1994 elections.

 

WCI celebrates its Fifth Annual Waterways Symposium at the Ritz-Carlton St. Louis. Attendees enjoy an evening and dinner at the St. Louis Art Museum.

2007

JANUARY

WCI merges with the Midwest Area River Coalition, diversifying WCI membership by bringing in agriculture entities, contractors, and organized labor, among other stakeholders. A Midwest office is established in St. Louis.  

 

FEBRUARY

Senator Robert C. Byrd (D-WV) receives WCI’s Sixth Annual Leadersip Service Award on February 28, 2007 at the Willard InterContinental Hotel in Washington, DC. The Capitol Hill fly-in marks the push for a WRDA bill by WCI members.

 

President George Bush’s FY08 budget request proposes the highest level of funding ever included in any President’s Budget for Corps of Engineers water resources projects and programs, at $4.8 billion.  

 

 

AUGUST

WCI's new members from the Midwest continue onsite public education activities like towboat tours and rides aboard a barge in towns and cities along the Mississippi River and Illinois Waterway.


Illinois Corn Growers Association's Jim Tarmann greets members of the public on a barge on the Mississippi River.

 

 

WCI’s push for WRDA continues during Congressional summer recess, hosting multiple media events at river locations, including aboard Barge 53, transiting through several locks over 8 days. Press conferences with Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) at Lock and Dam 15, and Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-MO-02), Rep. Kenny Hulshof (R, MO-09), and Rep. John Shimkus (R, IL-15) at Mel Price Locks and Dam, among others.

 

 

OCTOBER

Dan Mecklenborg takes the gavel as WCI’s third Chairman of the Board, 2007-2009, as Houston’s Four Seasons Hotel hosts the 4th Annual Waterways Symposium. Guests enjoy an evening event at the House Museum of Natural Science, taking in the Gem and Mineral Hall and dinner with the dinosaurs in the Hall of Paleontology.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOVEMBER

The first Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) in seven years passes over a veto override. 361-54 in the House and 79-14 in the Senate. WRDA includes  7 new locks authorized for construction on key sites along the Mississippi River and Illinois Waterway, a program later to be known as NESP – the Navigation-Ecosystem Sustainability Program.  (NESP). Shown here is Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) at a celebration at the St. Louis Carpenters District Council.  

 

Berdon Lawrence, Rep. Ted Poe (R, TX-02), and Merritt Lane at GICA's annual meeting.  

 

2006

FEBRUARY

Chairman Mark Knoy oversees the presentation to Representative David Hobson (R, OH-07) of WCI’s Fifth Annual Leadership Service Award on March 1 at the Willard InterContinental Hotel.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rep. David Hobson (R, OH-07)

President Bush’s FY 2007 proposed budget requeste a record level of federal funding for 11 Inland Waterways Trust Fund (IWTF)-financed projects. The level is the highest funding recommendation for IWTF funded projects since cost-sharing legislation was enacted into law in 1986.


The Administration's support for Waterways Council, Inc.'s priority projects include funding for Olmsted Locks and Dam (Ohio River, IL/KY), $110 million; McAlpine Lock (Ohio River, IN/KY), $70 million; Marmet (Kanawha River, West Virginia), $50.8 million; Lower Monongahela River 2, 3 and 4 (PA), $62.8 million; Chickamauga Lock (Tennessee River, TN), $27 million, and Emsworth Dam (Ohio River), $17 million. Also approximately $50 million was allocated for five additional major rehabilitation projects on the system, Locks and Dams 11, 19, 24, and 27 (Upper Mississippi River), and Markland (Ohio River).

The proposal, however, suspends funding for projects not as far along in their construction cycle, such as the Inner Harbor Navigation Lock Replacement (LA) and Kentucky Lock Addition (Tennessee River, KY). "We are also disappointed that there was no request for additional funding of preconstruction engineering and design (PED) to continue Upper Mississippi River/Illinois Waterway lock and dam modernization projects," declares President/CEO Barry Palmer in a press release. "The Nation needs to move more quickly to construct these navigation improvements, as well as PED projects that, if given a fighting chance, could produce high-yield returns."

 

OCTOBER

The 3rd Annual Waterways Symposium is held at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee on October 18-20.  

 

 

NOVEMBER

Democrats take control of both the House and Senate for the first time in a dozen years in the midterm election during President George W. Bush's second term. With a net gain of six seats in the Senate, Democrats obtain a narrow 51-49 majority (taking into account two independents caucusing with Democrats). Democrats pick up 31 seats in the House, and after the election Nancy Pelosi is elected the first female Speaker of the House for the 110th Congress. Former speaker Denny Hastert retires. 

2005

JANUARY

In response to the growing number of emergency closures, WCI members and the Corps of Engineers start a series of risk and reliability workshops to discuss the horizon for construction, rehabilitation and operation and maintenance needs on the inland system. Lock failures at Greenup and McAlpine in 2004 were two of at least 12 in the past 18 months.

 

The January issue of Capitol Currents features an article featuring a study, “The Declining Reliability of the U.S. Inland Waterways System,” by David Grier of the Institute for Water Resources. Mr. Grier told a TRB research and technology coordinating conference in 2004, “As funding has become increasingly constrained, only the most urgent maintenance and repair needs can be addressed while other items are postponed for another day.” Scheduled maintenance or repairs,“are occurring more often, at more locations and/or are taking longer to complete, and unscheduled closures due to failure of a lock component, or some other incident, are occurring more often, at more locations, and are likewise taking longer to fix.”

 

MARCH

Rep. Jimmy Duncan, Jr. (R, TN-02) and Rep. Jerry Costello (D, IL-12) receive WCI’s Fourth Annual Leadership Service Award on March 16 at the Willard InterContinental Hotel.

 

Rep. Costello with WCI staff Paul Rohde and WCI Board member Dale Roth of the Carpenters union.

 

OCTOBER

Chicago's Swisshotel hosts the 2nd WCI Annual Meeting. Mark Knoy (MEMCO Barge Line) receives the gavel from Berdon Lawrence (Kirby Corp) as the second Chairman of the Board, 2005-2007.

2004

MARCH

Senator Christopher “Kit” Bond receives WCI’s Third Annual Leadership Service Award on March 31 at the Willard InterContinental Hotel.   

 

Sen. Bond with WCI staff Paul Rohde

 

SEPTEMBER

WCI launches a Priorities Task Force to engage the Corps' top operations officials in identifying current and upcoming major maintenance and major rehabiltiation needs. The goal is to garner a better understanding of the system's needs in order for WCI to better advocate for the necessary funding. It is the first collaborative effort of industry and the Corps to develop system-wide priorities.

 

 

Shown in the photo are (left to right) Larry Daily (Alter Barge Line), Cherrie Felder (Channel Shipyard Co.), Greg Ruff (Corps), Mark Knoy (AEP River Operations), Susan Hampton (Corps), and Chris Brescia (MARC 2000)

 

OCTOBER

WCI launches its Capitol Currents newsletter, to track developments in D.C. and throughout the country as well as providing a focus on the people and organizations driving the news impacting waterways shipping. Longtime waterway association executive Harry Cook joins the WCI team as editor.

 

The first issue addresses, among other issues, the challenges brought from the impending continuing resolution in lieu of a FY05 Appropriations bill.  You can read the inaugural Capitol Currents issue here.

 

 

The lower auxiliary miter gates of at Mel Price Locks and Dam on the Upper Mississippi is the most recent example of a growing number of emergency closures, causing major disruptions to the supply chain. The previous several years saw emergency clsoures for equipment repair or replacement at John Day (Columbia River), Greenup and McAlpine (Ohio River), L/D 27 (Upper Mississippi), Bayou Sorrel (Gulf Intracoastal), and Lockport (Illinois RIver). Emsworth Lock will soon close for emergency repairs to its dam.  

 

2004 saw a record 47,221 hours of unscheduled closures of lock sites, according to the 2005 Inland Waterways Users Board Annual Report to Congress.

 

NOVEMBER

New Orleans' Hilton Riverside Hotel hosts the First Annual Meeting of WCI, November 29-30. The evening event includes an analyzation of the elections from a few weeks back by Ashland, Inc.'s Mike Toohey. Berdon Lawrence (Kirby Corporation) is re-elected Chairman of the Board for a one-year term, with Mark Knoy (MEMCO Barge Line) named First Vice Chair.

 

 

Midterm Elections Lesson Plan | PBS LearningMediaIncumbent President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney are reelected to a second term, defeating Senators John Kerry and John Edwards. Republicans win a net gain of four seats, increasing their majority to 55-44.  John Thune defeats minority leader Tom Daschle, marking the first time a sitting party leader lost re-election since 1952. Democrat Barack Obama wins the Illinois seat vacated by Peter Fitzgerald’s retirement. The GOP picks up five House seats and maintains majority control of the 109th Congress.

 

 

 

DECEMBER 

Lt. Gen. Carl A. Strock, Chief of Engineers, submits his Chief’s Report for the Upper Mississippi River – Illinois Waterway System. The endorsement of five new 1,200-foot locks at key sites on the Mississippi River and two on the Illinois Waterway costing about $2.6 billion and associated ecosystem restoration having a price tag of $5.7 billion. In the initial 15-year period, about $2 billion would be spent on lock construction and another $1.6 billion on environmental projects. The Chief’s report sets the stage for possible Congressional authorization in the next WRDA. The last Congress appropriated $13.9 million in FY04 to begin pre-construction engineering and design.  

 

2003

Waterways Council, Inc. is established from a temporary campaign called Waterways Work! which started in 2001.


Kirby Corporation’s Berdon Lawrence is named inaugural Chairman of the WCI Board of Directors, 2003-2005

 

FEBRUARY

WCI presents Senator John Breaux (R-LA) with its second annual Leadership Service Award. The inaugural award was presented to Representative Sonny Callahan (R, AL-01) March 20, 2002 by Berdon Lawrence (Kirby Corporation) on behalf of Waterways Work!.

With President Bush’s budget release, WCI sets out to lobby Congress on increasing the Appropriations amounts for the Corps’ Civil Works mission of navigation, especially projects co-funded by the Inland Waterways Trust Fund.

 

OCTOBER

McAlpine Locks and Dam is designated a Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers.