Continuing his efforts to safeguard the future of commerce on the Great Lakes, Rep. Jack Bergman is proposing a new policy to ensure baseline levels of funding for the backlogged maintenance projects along Great Lakes transportation routes.
The Great Lakes Navigation System (GLNS) is a deep-draft waterway connecting all five lakes through hundreds of navigation channels, breakwaters, jetties, harbors, and the MacArthur and Poe Locks at Sault Ste. Marie in Michigan’s First District. The GLNS sustains American jobs and saves consumers $3.6 billion annually in freight costs.
In a letter to his Congressional colleagues, Rep. Bergman pushed for a minimum percentage of Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) resources to be focused on reducing the GLNS work backlogs, which are addressed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).
Rep. Bergman states, “The locks are not only essential to our nation’s economy and national security, but they also compose the lynchpin of the GLNS. These valued points in the supply chain and many other key parts of the GLNS have considerable operations and maintenance needs which are supported by HMTF resources.”
Rep. Bergman’s request comes as lawmakers begin crafting the 2020 Water Resources and Development Act (WRDA), which authorizes USACE activities.
“The Lake Carriers’ Association, its members, users of the Great Lakes Navigation system, and anyone who lives along the shore of, or recreates in, the Great Lakes will benefit from the small but significant course correction Congressman Bergman asked to be included in the 2020 Water Resources Development Act. Providing clarity that the 10 percent allocation of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund for the Great Lakes applies to both the baseline and priority funding can mean the difference of millions of dollars. That money can build system resiliency to deal with the record high waters. It can better maintain the Soo Locks, dredge ports and recreational harbors, or fix jetties and breakwalls. We thank Congressman Bergman for taking the initiative and fixing a problem for the citizens of Michigan’s First Congressional District and the entire Great Lakes Basin,” said Jim Weakley, President, Lake Carriers’ Association.
“We applaud Congressman Bergman’s effort to guarantee that the Great Lakes region receive its fair share of funding from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund. Great Lakes ports and shipping support more than 147,000 American jobs, including 25,000 Michigan jobs,” said Steve Fisher, Executive Director for the American Great Lakes Ports Association.
Richard Hammer, President of the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force and Assistant General Manager of Donjon Shipbuilding and Repair, stated, “The seventy-plus members of the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force, representing management and labor from across the industrial spectrum and Great Lakes Basin, thank Congressman Bergman for asking to fix a problem that has concerned us for years. The Great Lakes Navigation System, America’s fourth seacoast, has over $600 million in unfunded needs for dredging, breakwaters, and lock maintenance. A cargo tax funds the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund to pay for those needs. Congressman Bergman’s solution, to treat “baseline” and “priority” funding the same will free up more of the industry-financed program for the Great Lakes. Particularly during this time of unprecedented high water, we need to fix our breakwaters. The increased rainfall has also silted in our navigational channels. This matters to all of us who make our living as a result of the Great Lakes, enjoy its beauty for recreation or are vulnerable to the ravages of its storms.”
You can read Rep. Bergman’s full letter explaining this policy proposal HERE.