The Soy Transportation Coalition (STC), which includes ASA, 11 state soybean boards, and the United Soybean Board (USB), released a study entitled "New Approaches for U.S. Lock and Dam Maintenance and Funding." The study was conducted by the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University and highlights the inadequacies of the current efforts of managing our lock and dam system and the potential for alternative funding and maintenance strategies to achieve better results. The study compared major waterways infrastructure projects in other countries, such as the Panama Canal expansion, with those in the United States.
These foreign projects have been completed on time and on budget despite being bigger and more complex than U.S. projects. The Olmsted Lock and Dam project is a prime example of the inefficiency of U.S. waterways infrastructure projects, as its original cost estimate of $775 million was recently updated to over $3.1 billion with a significant time horizon remaining before it will be completed.
The STC study examines the reasons for the cost overruns and project delays, focusing on the role that the current piecemeal and unpredictable financing process has on project delivery in the U.S. Read more about this study in the Checkoff News section.
The U.S. waterways industry, of which ASA is a stakeholder and supporter, has for many years advocated and lobbied for funding to modernize and construct new, larger locks and dams on the Upper Mississippi River. Unfortunately, the fiscal challenges facing our country as well as the dysfunctional legislative process have resulted in little progress.
As the Water Resources Development Act is due for reauthorization in 2013, ASA will raise some of the issues and ideas examined in the STC study with other agricultural groups, waterways industry partners, and Congress in an effort to achieve the optimal waterways transportation system that takes into account fiscal and legislative realities.