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WCI Haitls 'Big Win' for Waterways in Corps' 2024 Work Plan

May 28, 2024   THe Waterways Journal

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Waterways advocates are celebrating the release of the Corps of Engineers’ 2024 Work Plan, which provides record-level funding of $456 million for waterways construction projects. “Waterways Council Inc. is ecstatic at the outcome,” said Tracy Zea, president and CEO of WCI.

The Corps selected four inland construction projects to receive their full appropriation from Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) funding. Among the four is the navigation portion of the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program (NESP), which received $75 million. All funding for these projects will come completely from the federal government, with none coming from the Inland Waterways Trust Fund, which would otherwise be contributing about $160 million.


This allocation increases the total amount of inland waterways funding provided from the BIL (also called the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act) by $343 million for a total of $2.843 billion. “This sets the inland waterways construction program up for future success by increasing resources available to address cost escalations,” WCI said in a press release.

The construction projects receiving funding in the Work Plan are:


• MKARNS Three Rivers: $103,170,000 (complete physical construction and fiscal close out of the project);

• Navigation & Ecosystem Sustainability Program (NESP), Navigation: $75,000,000;

• Lower Mon: $41,000,000;

• and Chickamauga Lock: $236,800,000 (complete physical construction and fiscal close out of the project).

The Work Plan included funding for two inland waterway studies in the Investigations account: $800,000 to continue the feasibility study for Bayou Sorrell and $500,000 to initiate a study to evaluate deepening the J. Bennett Johnston Waterway, both in Louisiana.

The Work Plan also provided $368 million for the Mississippi River and Tributaries (MR&T) project, including an additional $10 million for dredging the Mississippi River. Total allocations for MR&T channels and harbors are:

• Channel Improvement, Dredging, Ark., Ill., Ky., La., Miss., Mo. and Tenn.: $21,403,000;

• Helena Harbor, Ark.: $580,000;

• Baton Rouge Harbor, Devils Swamp, La.: $564,000;

• Greenville Harbor, Miss: $1,234,000;

• Vicksburg Harbor, Miss.: $1,244,000;

• and Memphis Harbor, McKellar Lake, Tenn.: $2,435,000.


In addition, the Upper Mississippi River-Illinois Waterway system, which includes Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin, received $45 million, while the Upper Mississippi Restoration project received an additional $55 million. 


WCI said, “While the FY24 Work Plan offers great outcomes for the inland waterways construction program, without passage of the FY24 E&WD appropriations bill, the program could have faced devastating consequences of little funding, the mothballing of projects and lengthening timelines for completion. WCI expressed its thanks to Congress for passage of the FY24 appropriations bill earlier this year.”