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44 issue in a systemic context but focuses on particular bottle- lock-and-dam sets were built in the 1920s and 1930s. There necks and trouble spots. GAO is, however, explicit on the have been replacements--most of the lock-and-dam sets on point that funding from state and Federal sources is insuffi- the Ohio River have been replaced. Nonetheless, much of the cient for new capacity given that most of the available funds infrastructure is old. One paper states that almost half of all must be used for maintenance and rebuilding, leaving little lock chambers on the inland system were built more than for new capacity. The result is diminishing performance of 50 years ago.54 highway-freight carriage. Policy Impacts Unexpected Impacts Although the industry experts interviewed agreed there is a The policy choice in this case is more one of inaction than growing risk of lock or dam failure, opinion diverged on how action, and the impacts are probably not expected nor in- great the risk is. One of the industry executives observed that tended by most policymakers. Legislators, focused in part on the infrastructure is "robust" and the locks and dams built in projects in their own districts or states and in part on the total the 1920s and 1930s are "resilient," given proper maintenance. amount in a highway bill, are not likely to be consciously con- But this individual still noted that, as the facilities continue to sidering effects on the freight system. Decisionmakers may age, the risk of failure will grow. Others believe that the risk realize there are some negative effects of not providing a today is considerable. higher level of investment but underestimate the magnitude Nationwide, inland barges move a relatively small share of of the impact. In the absence of a catastrophic breakdown in total domestic tonnage, and any negative impacts would be the system, members of Congress are not likely to perceive restricted geographically and to a limited set of commodities. themselves as choosing to reduce the performance of high- Shallow-draft water carriage accounted for 3.9 percent of way-freight movement, although that may be a result of freight tonnage and 6.9 percent of ton-miles in 2002. The funding levels. In general, legislators at all levels of govern- consequences of a failure would depend on the specifics of the ment will be thinking primarily of passenger service as they facility that fails. Most, though not all, locks are doubles-- consider support for highway improvements. either two 1,200-foot locks or a 1,200 with a 600-foot aux- This is also likely to be the case where local officials have a iliary. (Some locks are smaller with auxiliaries as small as hand in project selection. Local officials typically operate in a 360 feet.) In the former case, failure of either lock would, political environment where peak-period congestion for depending on the traffic volumes during the outage, result in commuters has the highest priority. In a paper prepared for zero or very little delay or some noticeable delay, but the traf- the Section 1909 Commission, the point is made that MPOs fic would keep moving. If a 1,200-foot lock with a 600-foot have insufficient freight-planning capability.53 It is likely that auxiliary failed, the delays would be considerably greater. A the shortcomings of these institutions in regard to freight 15-barge tow, typical for the Upper Mississippi, can pass planning reflect, in part, the priorities of state and local leg- through a 1,200-foot lock intact, but would have to be bro- islative bodies. ken up to use a 600-foot auxiliary, moved through in two passes, and then put back together. Aside from the delay, one industry executive noted that there are safety issues as well, Level of Investment in Inland Waterway Infrastructure because risk of injury to crew is greatest when tows are being put together or broken up. Policy Description If a single lock fails, then river traffic is stopped until the lock can be repaired. As almost all the traffic is bulk com- Industry executives and academic observers share the view that there is a serious shortfall in investment in the inland modities of one kind or another, it would have to shift to rail waterways. Although some of the concern is about lack of for at least part of its journey--faster but more costly per ton- capacity--e.g., small (600-foot) locks at some points on the mile. The worst case would be a dam failure, which would Upper Mississippi--the much greater concern is perception close the river for the entire stretch between the dams next of a growing probability of a catastrophic failure as the infra- above and below the failed dam and, presumably, require structure ages. With some exceptions, most of the original more time for repair. For an estimate of the cost of a lock fail- ure, see Appendix B. 53 Cambridge Systematics, "Implications of Investments Targeted at Reducing Rail, Rail/Highway, Rail/Port, Highway/Port, Rail/Barge, and Highway/Barge 54Michael Bronzini, "Inland Waterways: Still or Turbulent Waters Ahead?" An- Freight Bottlenecks," Briefing Paper 4L-07, prepared for the Section 1909 Com- nals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 553, p. 70, Sep- mission, April, 2007, p. 5. tember, 1997.