Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway faces maintenance crunch

RALEIGH, N.C. – The federal budget for 2009 released by President Bush Feb. 3 is a step backward for one of the nation’s waterways, the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway Association said in a statement Feb. 14.

The $2.2 million in the White House budget for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to dredge the Intracoastal Waterway through Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida ignores serious navigation risks that commercial and recreational users of the 1,200-mile water highway face every day and threatens its future, AIWA said.

“The budget is a token amount, given that the Army Corps needs approximately $30 million to properly maintain the waterway,” said David Roach, AIWA chairman and Florida Inland Navigation District executive director. “The nation’s waterways have been ignored for far too long and the American people already suffer the consequences of neglecting critical infrastructure. The lack of maintenance funding will be catastrophic to the economies of every state along the waterway unless Congress steps in and dramatically increases the President’s proposal as it did last year.”

Roach noted that the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway brings more than $18 billion annually to the state of Florida alone. Studies have shown that the four other states also gain tremendous economic benefit from the waterway.

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