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Intracoastal Waterway Group Pressures Congress to Fund Channel

During their annual meeting in North Carolina on November 15 and 16, 62 members of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway Association passed a resolution calling on the U.S. Congress to create a permanent dedicated funding source for the maintenance of the waterway.

The resolution states that though congress has passed acts mandating that the federal government will construct, operate and maintain the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway from Norfolk, Virginia to the St. Johns River in Florida, and from Jacksonville, Florida to Miami, adequate funding for maintenance has not been allocated.

The failure to fund maintenance of the AIWA, the resolution states, has caused “loss of utility, commerce, economy, jobs, property values, public safety and enjoyment of the international, national, state, regional and local commercial and recreational waterway users and the citizens of the states of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.”

The group calls on congress to provide a solution to the funding shortfall.

It is signed by AIWA Chairman Benjamin Smith, of Stevens Towing, and Secretary Ryck Lydecker, assistant vice president for Government Affairs, of the Boat Owners Association of The United States.

The resolution is being circulated to all members of the House of Representatives Waterways Caucus. Rep. Mike McIntyre, D-NC, plans to make comments on the floor of the House regarding lack of funding for the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.

The theme of the meeting, held in Wrightsville Beach, was “Working Together to Make a Difference”. Besides passing the resolution, the agenda included an annual report by Executive Director Rosemary Lynch, who reported that approximately $30 million would be needed to return the AIW to its 12-foot depth from Florida to Virginia. Christine Brayman, Wilmington District deputy district engineer for project management, addressed the group, followed by a discussion by representatives from the Wilmington, Norfolk, Savannah and Jacksonville Districts.

A report on an economic impact study by the North Carolina Coastal Advisory Committee will be complete by fall of 2008. The study is analyzing the economic effect of the waterway on the region. The waterway benefits recreational boaters, commercial boat operators, marine-related businesses and property values in its vicinity. Data derived from the study will be added to the arguments for restoring federal funding for the waterway.

The group also began exploring alternate sources of funding for the channel, including from user fees and local governments.

Text of the resolution included separately. Keyword “resolution”.

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