Waterways Group Seeks Piece of Trump Infrastructure Plan
A waterways industry organization would like to see some of President Trump’s proposed $1-trillion, 10-year infrastructure investment plan go for replacing decades-old river locks, but the group, Waterways Council Inc. (WCI), strongly opposes another administration proposal, levying a new tax on barge companies.
Speaking to reporters at a Washington, D.C., briefing on June 1, WCI President and CEO Michael Toohey said the group proposes to use some of Trump’s envisioned infrastructure dollars to help fund 25 projects, totaling $8.7 billion over 10 years. Under WCI’s proposal, 75% of the $8.7 billion would come from the Trump initiative and could be generated from having U.S. companies repatriate overseas income.
The other 25% of the $8.7 billion would come from the Inland Waterways Trust Fund, which barge operators finance through an existing 29¢-per-gallon diesel fuel tax.
All authorized by Congress, the projects include the Inner Harbor Navigation Lock in Louisiana, estimated at $1 billion; three upper Ohio River locks in Pennsylvania, totaling $2.3 billion; and five locks on the upper Mississippi River, with a combined cost of $2.1 billion.
WCI objects to the administration’s proposed new waterway fee, included in Trump’s 2018 budget request. The budget says the levy would raise more than $1 billion over 10 years. WCI says that would require about a doubling of the current tax and calls the increase “onerous.”