Capitol Currents Newsletter

Concrete Sill Failure at Demopolis Lock, A Cautionary Tale

April 2, 2024

View Full Article

Concrete Sill Failure at Demopolis Lock, A Cautionary Tale


According to the Corps of Engineers’ Mobile District, on January 16, an on-duty lock operator at Demopolis Lock, located at the confluence of the Black Warrior and Tombigbee Rivers, heard a loud noise and, while investigating, noticed water flowing under the upper miter gate. The concrete that comprises the upper miter sill fractured, allowing water to gush under the gate.


Demopolis Lock is the first – and oldest – lock after the junction of the two rivers and provides a shortcut to the Gulf of Mexico. The lock typically experiences around 12 daily transits of various cargo such as feedstock, steel, coal, and crude oil. Utilizing Demopolis Lock for transits to and from Mobile normally takes about a week, but the lock closure now means a month-long trip because boats must connect at the Mississippi River rather than the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway.  This lock failure has meant longer shipping times, increased costs, and a lot of uncertainty for commercial operators and shippers.


With more than 80% of the nation’s locks and dams exceeding their engineering design life, Demopolis is a flashing yellow light of caution for the system overall and another reason to invest in this critically important transportation mode.  


At the time of the failure, the first course of action was to issue a Notice to Mariners of the breach and then close the lower miter gates to allow the pool to equalize and set the upper stoplogs to get the lock chamber under control.  The lock was then dewatered so damage assessments could take place.


Dive teams were called in to assess the extent of the damage and to locate debris for its removal from the chamber, including an estimated 500-ton chunk of concrete that broke off.  A contract has been awarded to acquire a high-capacity A-frame crane to remove the debris, with the large piece to be broken up into several pieces and lifted out. Teams are also determining optimal cut and drilling locations into the existing sill for dowel placement and rigging layouts for the lifts.


It has been determined that 2,200 cubic yards of concrete will need to be poured and cured for repair at Demopolis. Testing on concrete mixture designs and admixture optimization is taking place at a concrete batch Ready-Mix laboratory in Birmingham, AL. Corps’ Engineering & Quality Assurance teams remain in constant consultation on this critical part of the project, and there is likely to be a Ready-Mix back-up batch plant to be set up at the Demopolis site.


The Corps has said the lock repairs will be completed sometime around May 31 and is expected to cost between $30-50 million.


Monitor current progress on this project on the Mobile District’s website: under the Demopolis Lock & Dam Update.





Fiscal Year Funding is Make or Break

By Jennifer Armstrong, WCI Director of Government Relations


It isn’t hyperbole to say that Fiscal Year 2024 was a make-it-or-break-it year for inland waterways construction projects. Without regular appropriations, the draconian funding cuts of a Continuing Resolution (CR) lasting through the end of the fiscal year would have cost taxpayers greatly. Under a full-year CR, funding would be limited to levels enacted in FY23, an outlier year when program needs were much lower than usual because of funding provided in 2022 by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). The most funding that inland waterways construction projects could have received would have been $59.3 million, nearly $400 million below the funding needed to avoid additional cost escalation and schedule delays.


But after five months of uncertainty and four CRs to avoid a government shutdown, Congress passed the FY24 Energy and Water Development appropriations bill providing a record level $456 million for four ongoing inland navigation construction projects, with at least $120 million coming from the Inland Waterways Trust Fund (IWTF). Included was $236.8 million requested by Representative Chuck Fleischmann to complete the Chickamauga Lock in Tennessee, a project that has been ongoing since 2004. Without these funds, there would have been a cascading effect on the entire program as resources needed for other ongoing projects in future years would continue to be consumed by delayed projects receiving inefficient funding.


Other construction projects receiving funding in the bill included $103 million for the Three Rivers project on the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (MKARNS)  (requested by Representative Crawford); $41 million for Locks 2, 3, and 4 on the Lower Monongahela River (requested by Representative Reschenthaler and Senators Capito and Casey); and $120 million to be divided between navigation and ecosystem restoration for the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program (requested by Representatives Graves, LaHood, Luetkemeyer, Sorensen, and Budzinski and Senators Baldwin, Duckworth, Durbin, Klobuchar, and Smith).


The Investigations account funded two projects: $800,000 for the Bayou Sorrel Lock as requested by Representative Garret Graves and $500,000 to examine the feasibility of deepening the J. Bennett Johnston Waterway to 12 feet as requested by Senator Cassidy. The Mississippi River and Tributaries (MR&T) account received $367 million, a $140 million increase from the President’s FY24 budget request. Navigation projects funded in the MR&T account include Channel Improvements on the Mississippi River across seven states and funding for inland harbors such as Helena, Baton Rouge, Devils Swamp, Greenville, Vicksburg, and Memphis. The Operations and Maintenance account received $5.55 billion, an increase of $1.24 billion from the FY24 President’s Budget request.


Even with the ink still drying on FY24 funding, the focus now turns to FY25. Three days after signing the six-bill minibus for FY24, the Administration released its FY25 budget request on March 11th. Just like the previous year’s budget request, a disappointing $0 was included for projects cost-shared with the IWTF. WCI will once again be hard at work to secure the additional funding needed to modernize and maintain our nation’s inland waterways system. It won’t be without its challenges as the Presidential election year will make the timing of regular appropriations even more uncertain. Couple that with slim majorities in both chambers and the overall discourse on the Hill, the likelihood of a full-year CR in FY25 is not minor, making the $456 million received in FY24 even more significant.





Legislator Profile: Senator Tammy Baldwin 


In this issue of Capitol Currents, we profile another elected official who has championed the inland waterways: Senator Tammy Baldwin


Senator Tammy Baldwin has dedicated her life to public service and fighting for Wisconsin working families. Throughout her time in the Senate, Senator Baldwin has worked with Democrats and Republicans to strengthen economic security for working families, investing in education and workforce readiness, building a strong Made in Wisconsin economy, and protecting Americans’ hard-earned retirement savings. Senator Baldwin is dedicated to ensuring Wisconsinites can lead healthy lives, successfully expanding access to high-quality health care, cutting the cost of prescription drugs, and helping ensure Wisconsinites have safe water, clean air, and an environment free of toxic chemicals. 


Born in Madison, Wisconsin, Senator Baldwin graduated from Madison West High School and went on to double-major in political science and mathematics at Smith College. In 1989, she received her law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School. In 1986, while in law school, she served on the Madison Common Council, filling an aldermanic vacancy.


She was then elected to four terms (1986-1994) on the Dane County Board of Supervisors.  In 1992, Tammy was elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly as a State Representative for the 78th District, serving three terms.


In 1998, Senator Baldwin was elected as Wisconsin’s first female member of Congress and the nation’s first openly gay challenger representing the 2nd Congressional District. She served seven terms in the House of Representatives, serving on the Budget Committee, the Judiciary Committee, and the Energy and Commerce Committee.


Elected to the U.S. Senate on November 6, 2012, Senator Baldwin again made history as Wisconsin's first woman to serve in the U.S. Senate and the first openly gay member elected to the U.S. Senate. In 2018, Senator Baldwin was re-elected by the people of Wisconsin with 55.4% of the vote.


In the Senate, Senator Baldwin serves on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, and the Senate Appropriations Committee. She is also Chair of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Oceans, Fisheries, Climate Change, and Manufacturing, and Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies.


Q: The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is a generational bill that has provided much-needed investments in many sectors of the American economy. As a legislator, you championed the Buy America provisions in this bill, prioritizing hard-working Americans and their companies. Why was this so important to you?


A: To me it’s always been simple: Whenever possible, American taxpayer dollars should be invested in American businesses, American jobs, and American workers. Over the next several years, our investments from this legislation to rebuild our roads and bridges, expand access to high-speed internet, and help replace dangerous lead pipes will be done with American products and by American workers.  Buy America laws help us build resilient supply chains, reducing reliance on other countries and making us less susceptible to global shocks.


Q: Throughout your life, you have overcome tremendous adversity to become a leader in the United States House and Senate. How has the adversity that you have overcome impacted your public service?


A: Just like all of my colleagues, my experiences inform so much of what I do and who I fight for – here is an example. As a kid, I had a health condition that hospitalized me for weeks and subsequently labeled me with a “pre-existing condition,” making it nearly impossible for me to find health insurance into adulthood. In large part because of that experience, I’ve made fighting to expand access to affordable health care a top priority, including lowering costs and ensuring people with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied health care coverage.


Q: The Appropriations Committee is one of the most powerful committees in Congress. As a committee member, how have you leveraged your priorities and relationships to deliver wins for your constituents and the nation?


A: As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I’m always looking for opportunities to work with Republicans and Democrats to deliver for Wisconsin. Every year, clean water and water infrastructure ranks high on my list of priorities, but this should come as no surprise. Wisconsin is defined by water, with the Mississippi to our West, Fresh Coasts to our North and East, and inland lakes and rivers everywhere in between, water is critical for our state’s ecological health, economy, and way of life. I am proud to have brought home tens of millions of dollars for the Navigation and Environmental Sustainability Program, resources to manage PFAS and other toxic contamination, and investments to build resilient water infrastructure to last against a changing climate. As Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, I am also proud to deliver resources that expand access to affordable childcare, strengthen workforce development, and tackle the mental health and fentanyl crises.



Inland Waterways Users Board Approves Resolution to Fully Member spotlight: BargeOps


This issue’s spotlight is on WCI member BargeOps, whose platform has a suite of capabilities that allows the management, operation, and tracking of company’s barge activities, from boat to shore to back office.


Well familiar with the ins and outs of both technology and the inland marine transportation industry, whether it’s utilizing BargeOps’ Fleet Management module to see real-time data on the location and movement of every barge or tapping into its Analytics and Artificial Intelligence expertise to automate a custom reporting process, the company helps capture and utilize critical data that would otherwise be missed, leading to improved operations and efficiencies.


Beyond mere tracking, BargeOps harnesses the power of data analytics to offer insights that drive strategic business decisions. Its robust reporting tools or pipe custom data feeds into leading tools like Tableau or PowerBI, slicing and dicing customizable dashboards and analyzing information according to a company’s unique requirements. This analytical capability enables businesses to answer critical questions about their operations, from revenue generation by specific barges to the impact of lock delays on efficiency.


As BargeOps continues to navigate the future, with clients hauling for many industries and across many geographies, its focus remains on delivering solutions that meet the evolving needs of the waterways transportation sector. With a deep understanding of customer needs and a commitment to innovation, BargeOps is not just a software provider but a strategic partner to barge operators, helping them achieve new levels of efficiency and success.


In an era where data is king, BargeOps is a pioneer, demonstrating the transformative power of technology in the inland waterways sector. As we look to the future, BargeOps is poised to continue leading the charge, driving the industry towards greater efficiency, sustainability, and profitability.


BargeOps is proud to be a member of WCI and shares the belief that the waterways are a vital part of the nation's infrastructure, sustainability, and economy that need to be supported and improved with thoughtful plans, policies, and regulations. BargeOps supports WCI's efforts to promote the interests and benefits of the waterways industry to the public, the media, and the policymakers and values the opportunity to collaborate with the WCI community to increase our collective effectiveness and advance our common goals and vision.



Conservation Column: Historic Agreement Creates River Sand Management Partnership

By Patrick Moes, USACE, St. Paul District


The city of Wabasha, Minnesota, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) St. Paul District inked a historic partnership agreement along the shores of the Mississippi River at the National Eagle Center in Wabasha in July 2023. Wabasha Mayor Emily Durand and St. Paul District Commander Col. Eric Swenson signed a pact for the management of dredged river sand removed from the Mississippi River.


The agreement, also known as a Section 217 partnership, was years in the making and is a non-binding effort allowing USACE to partner with the city to help manage the river sand removed from the 9-foot navigation channel within the greater Wabasha area. Bob Edstrom, St. Paul District project manager, said the plan is the first of its kind for inland waters within the United States and represents a unique solution for the community and USACE. He said approximately 250,000 cubic yards of sand is generated within the Wabasha area annually.


“Having a partner in the city of Wabasha significantly helps us ensure a safe, reliable navigation system,” said Edstrom. “The agreement will help the community determine what is best for their needs, while providing us more time to focus on maintaining nearly 90-year-old navigation infrastructure.”


John Friedmeyer, Wabasha Port Authority president, said the partnership is a huge step forward for the community. “The agreement signed between the city and USACE provides the city the ability to manage dredged river sand in a manner that ensures the health, safety and well-being of our community,” he said. “That’s been the city’s goal from the onset. This agreement allows our community the opportunity to not have to worry about how the sand is moved off the river. It allows for constructive use of the product both publicly and privately. Rather than a threat to the community, it’s become an opportunity.”


The partnership originated after the initial draft plan in 2017 was rescinded following a public review. Edstrom said he remembers hearing from citizens about the need to have a stronger voice in deciding what would work best for their community. City and USACE officials began working collaboratively to develop a shared solution following the initial plan. Looking ahead, USACE will pay the city a nominal fee, or tipping fee, to manage the movement of river sand from temporary sites near Wabasha to permanent locations where it can be used for a variety of beneficial reuse activities. Edstrom said the primary benefit of the agreement is the fact that it provides the city with more control over material placement while affording USACE staff more time to focus on maintaining the navigation channel.


“The agreement may have taken longer than we originally expected, but we wanted to ensure we got it right and that it worked for everyone involved,” said Edstrom. “This partnership is a perfect example of what can be done when everyone is willing to roll up their sleeves and focus on what is most important for the community.” 


Reprinted from the Corps Environment (November 2023)



WCI Members Gather in Washington, DC for Annual Capitol Hill Fly-In


Waterways Council, Inc. held its Board of Directors meeting on February 6 in Washington, DC, where, among other actions, the Board approved WCI’s 2024 priorities that set the course for WCI’s work for the year. The next day, WCI’s members in attendance divided into state teams and visited nearly 100 offices in the House of Representatives and Senate to advocate for the Nation’s inland waterways and WCI priorities which included the passage of FY24 and FY25 appropriations, and WCI’s request for WRDA 2024. 


WCI social events included an opening reception on February 6 at Pearl Street that was attended by WCI members and supporters, the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) Michael Connor, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) Jaime Pinkham, and Corps of Engineers staff, and a reception on Capitol Hill following the day’s Hill meetings, attended by WCI members, supporters, and Congressional staff.



Thank you, WCI DC Meeting Sponsors



  • Canal Barge Company
  • Channel Shipyard Companies
  • CHS, Inc.
  • Crounse Corporation
  • Ingram Barge Line
  • Marathon Petroleum Corp.
  • Port of Pittsburgh Commission



  • C&B Marine
  • National Corn Growers Association
  • Pine Bluff Sand & Gravel
  • Southern Devall



  • CGB, Inc.
  • Cooper Group of Companies
  • International Federation of Professional

             & Technical Engineers

  • Illinois Corn Growers Association
  • Marquette Transportation Company, LLC



Dustin Davidson Departs WCI for State of Louisiana


WCI’s former Director of Government Relations Dustin Davidson departed the organization in February to become Chief of Staff for the Louisiana Department of Energy and Natural Resources (DENR) for the Governor of Louisiana, The Honorable Jeff Landry.


Dustin joined WCI in February 2021, previously serving as a professional staff member for the House of Representatives’ Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, addressing energy, environment, and resiliency issues. At the same time, he served as Legislative Assistant to Congressman Garret Graves (R-LA), focusing on energy, environment, agriculture, and trade issues. In this role, Dustin helped to pass an energy revenue-sharing bill out of the House Committee on Natural Resources, in addition to multiple pieces of legislation that recognized recreational fishing in federal law and improved conservation and ecosystem practices in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic Ocean. He also played a role in the Water Resources Development Acts (WRDA) of 2018 and 2020.


Dustin was also Legislative Correspondent for former U.S. Senator David Vitter (R-LA) in 2016 and worked as a staff assistant on the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship in 2015.


Longing to return to his home state of Louisiana, where his family resides, Dustin’s considerable experience will serve the DENR, whose mission is to ensure and promote the sustainable and responsible use of the natural resources of the state so that they are available for the enjoyment and benefit of citizens now and in the future. DENR is one of 20 departments under the Executive Branch of Louisiana’s government with three primary offices, Coastal Management, Conservation, and the Office of Mineral Resources.


While at WCI, Dustin was integral in efforts to increase fiscal year appropriations for the Corps of Engineers’ Civil Works budgets, and for WCI policy positions within WRDA 2022 and WRDA 2024, currently in process. He also helped to organize WCI’s Capitol Hill Fly-Ins over three years and was an attendee and leader in 2023 of WCI’s annual media tours.


WCI Chair and fellow Louisianan Cherrie Felder said, "Dustin brought to WCI his extensive network of contacts on Capitol Hill, his intimate understanding of committee work and what it takes to accomplish WCI's priorities. He also tactfully educated me on working with young Hill staffers. In his three years with WCI, he helped to advance inland waterway projects, and I appreciate his efforts. While I will miss his talent at WCI, Louisiana also needs his talent, and I look forward to working with him back home.”


“While WCI will miss Dustin’s counsel, diligence, and wit, we know that this new position in his home state is best for him,” said WCI President/CEO Tracy Zea, who had worked with Dustin over many years on Capitol Hill. “WCI and our members thank him for all his efforts that have led to success for the inland waterways industry over his time with us,” he continued.



National Waterways Foundation: Providing the Facts Industry Uses to Elevate the Waterways


An important fundraising effort is underway at the National Waterways Foundation (NWF), the "501(c)3 educational organization that functions as the research arm of the inland waterways. The goal is to raise additional funds for the Foundation’s next round of industry studies.


Established in 1978, NWF’s mission is to develop intellectual, factual arguments for an efficient, well-funded, and secure inland waterways system. Over its nearly 50-year history, the Foundation has commissioned several important studies that have provided critical data points to enhance the national dialogue about the importance of the inland waterways to the United States. These studies have highlighted the waterways system’s economic, environmental, safety, and national security benefits, and its significance in America’s transportation network and supply chain. The National Waterways Foundation exists solely on contributions and donations.


NWF’s Officers consist of a variety of industry leaders, with Matt Woodruff (Chairman of the Board; Kirby Corporation); Cherrie Felder (Vice Chairman of the Board; Channel Shipyard Companies); Tracy Zea (President; Waterways Council, Inc. (WCI)); Karl Jefferson (Treasurer; LIUNA); and Deb Calhoun (Secretary; WCI).


Its Trustees are Kristin Beck (LaFargeHolcim); Andrew Brown (Ingram Barge Company); Jennifer Carpenter (American Waterways Operators); Teri Goodmann (City of Dubuque, IA); H. Merritt Lane (Canal Barge Company); Robert McCoy (Amherst Madison); Brian Mueller (Heartland Companies); Rev. Mark Nestlehutt (Seamen's Church Institute); Jason Nyberg (Marquette Transportation Co., LLC); Tim Parker (Parker Towing Company); Dr. Craig Philip (Vanderbilt University); Chad Pregracke (Living Lands & Waters); Alex Pucheu (American Commercial Barge Line); Stephen Sheridan; Nelson Spencer, Jr. (The Waterways Journal); Peter H. Stephaich (Campbell Transportation Company); Jim Tarmann (Illinois Corn Growers Association); Anne Thompson (Farm Credit Council); Clark Todd (Blessey Marine); and Kirsten Wallace (Upper Mississippi River Basin Association).


One of the NWF’s most well-known and utilized industry studies is “A Modal Comparison of Domestic Freight Transportation Effects on the General Public: 2001–2019” which compares selected impacts of using inland waterways barge transportation to highway and rail transportation. The study, by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s Center for Port and Waterways, was originally conducted and peer-reviewed in 2007, and then subsequently updated in 2011 and 2017 when data sets were available.  The most recent 2022 update of the study addresses cargo capacity, congestion, emissions, energy efficiency, safety, and infrastructure impacts.


“The National Waterways Foundation is a bit like a stealth weapon.  Many in the industry utilize the data, statistics and graphics, and benefit from the studies NWF has produced, but often don’t know where the information came from,” said Chairman Woodruff. “NWF’s studies have really created and elevated the conversation within Congress, the Army Corps of Engineers, the news media and among waterways stakeholders about the critical importance of the inland waterways and its infrastructure, a subject not well understood or fully appreciated as a national asset,” he continued. 


Among NWF’s other areas of work, most recently, at the end of January, it released the second update of state waterways profiles that were completed by Cambridge Systematics, Inc. (CSI).  The profiles offer valuable information about what the waterways bring to each inland state.  The states profiled are Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.  


To ascertain the data, CSI utilized the National IMPLAN model to estimate the economic impacts of each state’s inland waterways system. The analysis evaluated current economic and commodity flow information, inland waterways and waterways-dependent industries, top commodities, and the industries that most benefit from the inland waterways in each state. The profiles also include high-level, national benefits of and statistics for the inland waterways. 


CSI’s data-driven methodology and process leveraged analysis from reports and research published by the Corps of Engineers (utilizing the most recent 2021 data), U.S. Department of Agriculture, NWF, state agencies, Federal Highway Administration, and Bureau of Labor Statistics, among other sources.  


The profiles also reveal the number of inland waterways-supported jobs, associated state and local tax revenue, the volume of freight moving on the state’s inland waterways and how that equates to numbers of trucks, and how many miles of navigable inland waterways traverse the state.  


Find the new state inland waterways profiles and a methodology document detailing how the data was calculated for the profiles here. Visit:


The Foundation has also commissioned two other important studies expected to be released this year.  One will address employment issues in the inland waterways – wages, benefits, uniqueness and the opportunities for advancement, being performed by Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s Center for Port and Waterways. Eno Transportation Center is doing a study for NWF that examines the many beneficiaries of the inland waterways and its infrastructure.  This study will update work done in 2011 by the University of Tennessee on the multiple beneficiaries of the waterways.


Chairman Woodruff continued, “Our industry relies on fact-based, defensible data and stats to highlight the vital role of the inland waterways among surface transportation modes and the National Waterways Foundation’s studies have made that information possible to us all over nearly five decades.”


Visit to learn more, and consider making a donation to continue the NWF’s important work here. Visit:



March ‘Five on the Five’ Features RepRESENTATIVE Rick Crawford (R-AR)


The Towing Vessel Inspection Bureau (TVIB) has announced the establishment of the “Mike Rushing Legacy Service Award,” a distinguished recognition that celebrates a lifetime of commitment to serving others and outstanding contributions to the maritime industry. This award seeks to honor individuals who embody the characteristics and traits Mike Rushing modeled throughout his life. Honorees will serve as role models for compassion, service, and a passion for their community at home and within the industry.


Mr. Rushing passed away in 2023. He was active in his local church community, spent years leading the Boy Scouts and Soap Box Derby, mentored men in the Breaking Bonds Addiction Recovery Ministry, and in 2009 was a founding member of TVIB. He served on the TVIB Board of Directors for 10 years, leading as its first Chairman in 2012, and remained active as the Audit Committee chairman until his death.


The award is open to those in the towboat, tugboat, and barge industry, including members of the U.S. Coast Guard, who display the core principles of the award: community service, professional excellence, and active and engaged mentorship.


The winner will be recognized at this year’s Waterways Journal Inland Marine Expo, and a financial contribution will be made to the Seamen’s Church Institute Ministry on the River program in honor of the recipient.



Towing Vessel Inspection Bureau To Honor Service and Mike Rushing


The Towing Vessel Inspection Bureau (TVIB) has announced the establishment of the “Mike Rushing Legacy Service Award,” a distinguished recognition that celebrates a lifetime of commitment to serving others and outstanding contributions to the maritime industry. This award seeks to honor individuals who embody the characteristics and traits Mike Rushing modeled throughout his life. Honorees will serve as role models for compassion, service, and a passion for their community at home and within the industry.


Mr. Rushing passed away in 2023. He was active in his local church community, spent years leading the Boy Scouts and Soap Box Derby, mentored men in the Breaking Bonds Addiction Recovery Ministry, and in 2009 was a founding member of TVIB. He served on the TVIB Board of Directors for 10 years, leading as its first Chairman in 2012, and remained active as the Audit Committee chairman until his death.


The award is open to those in the towboat, tugboat, and barge industry, including members of the U.S. Coast Guard, who display the core principles of the award: community service, professional excellence, and active and engaged mentorship.


The winner will be recognized at this year’s Waterways Journal Inland Marine Expo, and a financial contribution will be made to the Seamen’s Church Institute Ministry on the River program in honor of the recipient.



Being in the ‘Burgh


On February 14, the Waterways Association of Pittsburgh held its monthly meeting with guest speaker WCI President/CEO Tracy Zea to update its members and guests on WCI’s priorities and activities for 2024. Zea addressed FY24 funding for the inland waterways and the impacts of a year-long Continuing Resolution (CR) vs. another short-term CR, WRDA 2024 and the Capital Investment Strategy (CIS) update underway.



Congratulations, Growing Goldings!


Golding Barge Line President Austin Golding has added to his family with the December 27 arrival of Scott Golding, weighing in at 7 pounds 15 ounces. Big brother Whit and Mom Kristen are doing great, and WCI is thrilled to have another future towboater in the Golding family. 





WCI’s Jennifer Armstrong and Deb Calhoun (center) stand with National Defense University (NDU) Eisenhower School students on March 15 after making a presentation to the class on the importance of the inland waterways to the economy, the supply chain and national security.  WCI has presented to NDU for more than 20 years, and this year, NDU celebrates its 100th anniversary.



2023 Industry Calendar




April 24-26:  Greater New Orleans Barge Fleeting Association 40th River & Marine Industry Seminar, (New Orleans, LA) Visit:


May 14-15:   American Waterways Operators Board of Directors Meeting, Spring Convention & Barge-In, (The Westin, Washington, DC) Visit:


May 29-31:  Inland Marine Expo (IMX2024), (Music City Center, Nashville) Visit:


June 10:  2024 Rail & Maritime Summit, (Union Club, Chicago) Visit:


June 13:  Seamen’s Church Institute Silver Bell Awards,

(Chelsea Piers, New York) Visit:


August 7-9:  119th Annual GICA Seminar (Westin Hotel, 100 Iberville Street, (New Orleans, LA) Visit:


November 13-15:   WCI Board of Directors meeting and Annual Waterways Symposium (Omni La Mansion del Rio Hotel, San Antonio, TX) Visit:


September 8-12, 2025:  Smart Rivers 2025 (Memphis, TN) Visit: