As congressional appropriators continue their work on spending bills for fiscal year 2016, industry groups are pushing for an increase in the Army Corps of Engineers civil works budget.

A coalition including the American Association of Port Authorities, Waterways Council Inc. (WCI) and others wrote key appropriators on March 12, requesting $2.76 billion in 2016 for the Corps navigation program, up 17% from 2015. To help reach that goal, the coalition wants Congress to appropriate $1.25 billion in Harbor Maintenance Tax revenue for FY16, the goal set in 2014's Water Resources Reform and Development Act.

WCI CEO Mike Toohey told reporters at a March 11 briefing that 60% of Corps locks exceed their design lives. He said industry wants Congress to lift FY16 Inland Waterways Trust Fund infrastructure spending 28%, to $360 million. Last year's 9¢-per-gallon barge-fuel tax hike will add at least $70 million a year to the fund.