STATUS: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Releases the U.S. Port and Inland Waterways Modernization: Preparing for Post-Panamax Vessels Report
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers submitted to Congress Wednesday, June 20, 2012, the “U.S. Port and Inland Waterways Modernization: Preparing for Post-Panamax Vessels” report, an examination of options for future modernization of U.S. ports and inland waterways. (As the study progresses, this website will include study updates, report outlines, and draft report sections.)
The Panama Canal expansion will almost triple the size of container vessels able to transit the canal. How will this effect trade to the US, especially along the east and Gulf coasts? To understand this impact, we must first understand the existing condition of our port, inland waterway and intermodal infrastructure. Once we have a clear picture of the current condition and capacity of our waterway infrastructure, port and inland modernization needs can be described and a strategy developed to move forward.
Congress directed the Institute for Water Resources to submit to the Senate and House Committees on Appropriations a report on how the Congress should address the critical need for additional port and inland waterway modernization to accommodate post-Panamax vessels. The US Port and Inland Waterways Modernization Strategy develops a vision for meeting the needs for US port and inland waterway modernization and proposes a high-level strategy to implement that vision. The study relied on existing data, reports, and studies as well as conducted original research. The study report highlights issues, provides information, data, opinions, and options; it does not make any recommendations.
Congress asked the study authors to consider the following factors:
- costs associated with deepening and widening deep-draft harbors
- ability of the waterways and ports to enhance the nation's export initiatives benefiting the agricultural and manufacturing sectors
- current and projected population trends that distinguish regional ports and ports that are immediately adjacent to population centers
- availability of inland intermodal access
- environmental impacts resulting from the modernization of inland waterways and deep-draft ports
Upon the enactment of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2012 on December 23rd 2011, USACE Headquarters began working with IWR on scoping the U.S. Port and Inland Waterways Modernization Strategy. The strategy explores the impacts of the Panama Canal expansion to accommodate larger “post-Panamax” ships on future marine transportation system needs. The strategy development process incorporated the perspectives of shippers, carriers, ports, environmental interests, state and federal agencies, and other interested parties. Because of the six-month time frame directed by Congress, the study relies heavily on existing data, reports and studies and leveraging other ongoing assessment studies.
The study surveys existing conditions, reviews the drivers of and uncertainties surrounding the future demand for international trade; forecasts the macro makeup of the future ocean fleet; evaluates the regional environmental footprints of navigation modernization, and addresses elements of benefits estimation and implication of modernization costs to the USACE Civil Works budget and for Federal investment more generally. The study also reviews future options for financing and considerations of modernization within the context of the Nation’s overall intermodal transportation system. Although the strategy articulates options for potential Congressional actions for modernization, its focus remains at a strategic level and does not identify specific project priorities for ports or waterways.
In order to provide strategies, study authors had to ask these and other questions: What barriers exist, institutional or otherwise, that will constrain the future development of ports? Should US port expansion and inland waterway development be prioritized to enhance exports? Can the Nation's inland navigation system handle the increase in US exports from the interior that are likely to result from the Panama Canal expansion? What are current industry operating practices?
To contact the study authors with input and information related to these questions please contact Hal Cardwell, Communications and Public Engagement Lead.
The study produced a strategy for meeting the nation’s critical needs for port and inland waterway modernization. The study explored the impacts of the Panama Canal expansion on each facet of the navigation industry. It relied on existing data, reports, and studies as well as conduct original research. A report highlights issues, provide information, data, opinions and options; it does not make any recommendations.
|Authorized by Congress
|18 Apr 2012
|Deadline for Comments, Version 1
|1 May 2012
|Report Version 2 to USACE HQ
|22 May 2012
|Report Version 2 review back from USACE HQ, Office of Assistant Secretary of the Army
|1 Jun 2012
|OMB and Interagency Review Expected
|20 Jun 2012
||Report Delivered to Congress
Opportunities for Input
Because of the broad stakeholder interest in the strategy, IWR conducted the investigation and communicated the findings in a transparent and accessible manner. Due to the compressed time frame of the strategy development process, USACE aimed to leverage outreach activities already conducted and currently planned under the Department of Transportation's ongoing Panama Canal Expansion Study. As the study progresses, this website will include study updates, report outlines, and draft report sections.
Conference language from the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2012 (H.R. 2055): Within the funds provided, the Institute for Water Resources is directed to submit to the Senate and House Committees on Appropriations within 180 days of enactment of this Act, a report on how the Congress should address the critical need for additional port and inland waterway modernization to accommodate post-Panamax vessels. This study will not impede nor delay port or inland waterway projects already authorized by Congress. Factors for consideration should include costs associated with deepening and widening deep-draft harbors; the ability of the waterways and ports to enhance the nation's export initiatives benefiting the agricultural and manufacturing sectors; the current and projected population trends that distinguish regional ports and ports that are immediately adjacent to population centers; the availability of inland intermodal access; and the environmental impacts resulting from the modernization of inland waterways and deep-draft ports.