It is essential that the measures should begin to address the growing backlog of navigation lock and dam upgrades and replacements necessary for an efficient and reliable inland transportation network. Congress can take reasonable interim steps to improve the efficiency of ongoing and pending inland waterway projects, as well as lay the groundwork for later efforts to address ongoing funding shortfalls.
Enactment of a new law will be a monumental achievement for the 113th Congress, and one that has resulted from a serious, bipartisan desire to address long-neglected water infrastructure needs facing the nation. It will represent a substantial first step forward, one that must be followed by Congress and the administration carrying through the policy and financial commitments made in the final bill.
Our water transportation system is only as effective as the quality of its infrastructure, and restoring the strength and reliability of a 21st century water infrastructure network will require substantial investment by all levels of government and the private sector. That is the path that will be laid down by enactment of a new law — but one that will need constant attention from all stakeholders to come to fruition.
Rep. Timothy H. Bishop, D-N.Y., serves on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.