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Friday, February 26, 2010


You've seen the commercial about how trains take trucks off the highways?

Well, here are some commercials about the use of waterways to save fuel, create jobs and play with boats from Waterways Council:

More from the Corps of Engineers including one (the second) with a touch on national security:

As the second Corps video makes clear, maintenance is required for this vital system.

See here re Tombigbee and short sea shipping.

See here re St. Lawrence Seaway.
Columbia/Snake River system (from Pacific Maritime Magazine June 2006 found here):
The Columbia River re-mains a major maritime highway in the Pacific Northwest for agricul-tural commodities, forest products and mineral bulks, allowing deepsea ships to sail 105 miles inland and barges another 360 miles, as far as the state of Idaho, for cargoes.***
The 465 mile navigation system offered by the Columbia and Snake rivers, along with a small portion of the Willamette river at Portland, is made possible by a series of hydro-electric dams featuring navigation locks, four on the Columbia and four on the Snake. Among these is the lock at John Day Dam, which has a lift of 110 feet, the highest in North America. Deepwater shipping makes use of a 40-foot-deep channel, currently being dredged to 43 feet, to travel as far eastward as Vancouver, Washington, while a shallower 14-foot-deep channel accommodates barge traffic all the way to Lewiston. Ocean-going vessels make some 2,000 port calls on the river each year, trans-porting an average $16 billion worth of freight, while ships and barges together move about 17 million tons of cargo annually. 

San Francisco is fed by the Sacramento River and its ship channel as well as the Stockton  channel from the Port of Stockton.

Short sea shipping explained here. The criticism of short sea shipping is that it takes too long in some cases. Then there are barriers to its use. See January 2010 issue of Marine News at pp 28-29:
Some of the obstacles to short-sea shipping noted in these studies, and by other sources, are slowly being addressed, while others may simply bea fact of life. In September 2009, the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC) and its counter-part, the CanadianSt. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC), went on a fact-finding mission to Europe to determine why short-sea shipping was so successful in that part of the globe, but far less so in North America.U.S. and Canadian regulatory barriers were discovered to be one of the biggest obstacles, including cabotage and tax laws. The U.S. has theJones Act and Canada has a 25% tax on non-Canadian built / flagged ships. These laws, especially the Jones Act, can be touchy subjects, but Terry Johnson, SLSDC Administrator, said, “I think we can be honestand straight forward and say that they are big barriers to having short-sea shipping take off.” Johnson reported that Canada is in the process of repealing its 25% tax, at least for vessels of a certain size. “On our side,of course,” he said “the Jones Act isn’t going anywhere.”The America’s Deep Blue Highway study demonstrated that it’s a game of give and take, as Europe already knows. The study noted that “this impressive use of coastal shipping has come with some pain because liberalizing Europe’s domestic shipping market has been accompanied by‘flagging out’ by some operators and a loss of European shipboard jobs to lower wage foreign competitors.” Weitz said the crewing and flagging of a vessel have very little impact on the cost — it’s the price of building vessels in the U.S. that puts short-sea shipping at a significant disadvantage to trucking. Trucks on U.S. roadways can be built anywhere in the world.
In some areas, time is still a consideration for short-sea shipping to gain the smallest foothold, even if all otherfactors were favorable. Dr. Matthew P. Tedesco, teamed with Westar Transport, CDI Marine, and Transystems /Manalytics on the study “Operational Development of Marine Highways to Serve the U.S. Pacific Coast,”released in September 2009. Tedesco said “The San Francisco region to Los Angeles / Long Beach (LA / LB)has the greatest volume of trailers moving daily in both directions [on the West Coast], however it is only about a400 mile route. As a result, it is a challenge to make it work commercially. In order to provide a comparable levelof service as trucking, vessel speeds of approximately 27knots are required.” The America’s Deep Blue Highways study also addressed this concern, saying “Barges and articulated tug-barges have an important role to play in a diversified, thriving marine highway, but they tend to carry low-value goods that require only slow transit times.Many previous market studies of U.S. coastal shipping suggest that barge speeds are simply too slow to compete effectively with a large share of existing road and rail traffic. Thus we recommend that America’s policy discussion on a revitalized coastal shipping industry focus more attention on ships with service speeds in the twenty-knot range.”
When you read the article (highly recommended) you might note the effects of tax and labor union issues in impeding development of short sea shipping.

UPDATE: On the Intracoastal Wateway here.
 Gulf Intracoastal Canal Association here:
The GICA was organized in 1905, to promote the idea of a single channel that would connect all major Gulf coast ports. This very idea materialized some 44 years later, with the formal completion of the Waterway in June, 1949. A significant engineering achievement, the Waterway's creation was made possible only by the cooperative efforts of communities, legislators and government agencies, working together toward a common goal. From its early days, the GICA educated these groups regarding the importance of the Waterway, and facilitated their collaboration.

Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway Association here:
The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (AIWW) extends 1200 miles from Norfolk, Virginia to Key West, Florida.  Some lengths consist of natural inlets, salt-water rivers, bays, and sounds; others are man-made canals. Congress authorized the creation of the AIWW in 1919 and the entire waterway was completed in 1940.
UPDATE2: The AIWA has some strong feelings on the proposed budget for the AICW:
The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway Association expressed its disappointment with the Administrations's budget proposal for FY11.***

The following is a breakdown for each waterway state. The states in red have the most critical need:

Virginia - $3,045,000 This amount includes $2,150,000 for the Abermarle Chesapeake Canal and $895,000 for the Dismal Swamp Canal

North Carolina - $4,750,000 This funding will allow the Corps to complete most necessary maintenance dredging and provides $750,000 to begin Phase II of the Dredged Material Management Plan (DMMP) for NC, SC, and GA. FL already has a DMMP and AIWA is the force behind the development of such a plan for the other waterway states.

South Carolina - $900,000 $490,000 is for maintenance dredging. Much less than the $6 million needed for the SC portion.

Georgia - $265,000 In 2009 GA received $6 million in Stimulus funds to dredge several neglected portions. However, the lack of a disposal area prevented the Corps from dredging in Creighton Narrows, Little Mud River and Jekyll Island Reach. The DMMP will help solve the spoil site problem in the future but this river needs dredging now. The Corps and DNR have been able to work out an agreement with the Port of Brunswick for a one-time use of their disposal site. This budget amount does not include any funding for dredging in FY11. The Corps needs $6 million to properly take care of this section of the waterway.

Florida - $350,000 This amount would be laughable if is wasn't so serious. The AIWW in Florida annually brings in $18 billion in revenue to the state and federal government. Florida needs $15 million to maintain its waterway.
UPDATE3: Did I leave out the Mississippi? Whoops - see here:
No river has played a greater part in the development and expansion of America than the Mississippi. In 1705 the first cargo was floated down the river from the Indian country around Wabash, now the states of Indiana and Ohio. This was a load of 15,000 bear and deer hides brought downstream for shipment to France.

Invention of the steamboat in the early nineteenth century brought about a revolution in river commerce. The first steamboat to travel the Mississippi was the "New Orleans."

The Mississippi River is the main stem of a network of inland navigable waterways which form a system of about 12,350 miles in length, not including the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway of 1,173 miles.

Waterborne commerce on the Mississippi rose from 30 million tons in 1940 to almost 400 million in 1984. This heavy commercial traffic includes grains, coal and coke, petroleum products, sand and gravel, salt, sulphur and chemicals, and building materials among others. In addition, many pleasure craft from all parts of the country now use the Mississippi for vacation and travel.
See also here:
It is the major river of North America and the United States at (2,339 miles) (3,765 km) in length. It flows from northwestern Minnesota south to the Gulf of Mexico, just below the city of New Orleans. It is a significant transportation artery and when combined with its major tributaries (the Missouri and Ohio rivers) it becomes the third largest river system in the world at (3,877 miles) (6,236 km) in length.

It begins in southern Montana in the Rocky Mountains, first flowing north then generally southeast across the heart of the United States, ending at the Mississippi River, just to the north of St. Louis, Missouri. It is the longest river in the United States (2,500 miles) (4,023 km).

Formed by the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the Ohio flows generally southwest. It forms the natural borders of Ohio and West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky, as well as parts of the borders of Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky. It empties into the Mississippi River at the Illinois border and is (975 miles) (1,569 km) long.
UPDATE4: The often forgotten Hudson River:
Once extended by the Erie Canal, the Hudson became the principal artery of an interstate transportation system that connected the Ohio and Mississippi Valleys, the Port of New York and the markets of the world – barge by barge by barge. At first, barges were individual cargo vessels pulled by mules or current. The marine steam engine made it possible to tow a train of barges up or downstream, on a reliable schedule. The marriage of barge and railroad was inevitable and the two powered the growth of the Empire state.

On the Hudson and in New York Harbor the “railroad navy” or “water belt line” connected waterfront rail terminals with other ports. According to rail-marine expert Thomas Flagg, “The geography of the Port of New York forced the railroads serving it to rely on fleets of ferries, tugboats and barges to deliver freight and passengers to parts of the harbor they could not reach with rails. These railroad marine operations . . . were a vital and colorful part of the Port for a century, and were more extensive here than anywhere else in the world.”
Of course there is school now located where there once was an important fort that protected the Hudson River from the British fleet. It was that because of that fort at West Point on the Hudson that Benedict Arnold turned traitor to the American cause to try to surrender it to the Brits - which would have severed the colonies . . . and allowed the British considerable freedom of movement.

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