The Inland Rivers Ports and Terminals (IRPT) association hosted its annual conference in St. Louis Missouri from April 29 to May 1 in conjunction with the Inland Marine Expo (IMX) a new annual trade show for the inland and intracoastal marine transportation industry.
The IRPT kickoff luncheon and welcome began with comments from the city of St. Louis’ Mayor Francis Slay and IRPT signed a resolution with the Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative (MRCTI) supporting its container-onbarge
The afternoon session on Tuesday April 29 included WRRDA: What’s In It For You? D.C. Comes to Your Desktop and a commissioners roundtable with Greg Pritchett port director Henderson County Riverport Authority and Dennis Wilmsmeyer executive director America’s Central Port.
At the WRRDA session Robert Schuster Buchanan Ingersoll and Rooney gave an overview of the funding issues facing the Corps of Engineers in recent years and the challenges with the 2014 WRRDA legislation.
Paul Rohde vice president for Waterways Council Inc. (WCI) Midwest division.
Paul Rohde vice president for Waterways Council Inc. (WCI) Midwest Division outlined some of the details of WRRDA and some reforms that could be expected including changes to the Inland Waterways Trust Fund by increasing the existing tax on diesel fuel from six cents to nine cents.
The afternoon session Getting It Out: Dredging began with a presentation Liebherr Construction Equipment Co. who outlined five Liebherr dredging excavator models – P984 P9250 P9350 P995 P9800 – and some of its work in the dredging market.
Next Lance Engle Corps of Engineers dredging project manager St. Louis District gave an outline of lock and dam maintenance needs for the area and river training structures and channel maintenance using the district’s cuttherhead and mechanical dustpan dredge.
Rob Rash from the Mississippi Valley Flood Control Association spoke about the successes of the Corps of Engineers Mississippi River and Tributaries (MR&T) project particularly after the floods in 2011.
Raymond McDonald of ExxonMobil spoke at the Inland Marine Expo on the new EPA vessel general permit (VGP) guidelines.
Jon Nieman of Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co. spoke about issues in the inland waterway dredging market nothing that what often are problems for dredging contractors are also problems for the ports. At many locations dredges can only work two months of the year leaving them ideal for 10 months. This often means the oldest and most inefficient equipment goes to inland projects.
“Capital investments are made where there is a return” Nieman said. “And that’s not on inland rivers right now.”
Funding is especially an issue for smaller markets. For projects that cross Corps of Engineers district lines it’s also difficult to get funding at all. Neiman encouraged companies in the inland market to “change the way we’re doing business” he said. Neiman also said the industry to should support the Corps and work to change the rules on Capitol Hill with organizations like IRPT and other industry associations.
Keynote speaker Paul “Chip” Jaenichen acting maritime administrator spoke at the luncheon on Wednesday April 30 to give an overview of the maritime transportation needs for the future and important MARAD initiatives like the American Marine Highway program which works to incorporate the navigable waterways into the greater U.S. transportation system; StrongPorts which provides expertise on port financing and port infrastructure and assists in redevelopment plans; and TIGER grants which accepted its sixth round of funding applications this spring.
Other topics at the conference included public/private partnerships intermodal development and containers for the marine highway tonnage reporting and the liquid cargo on the inland waterways.
Social events in partnership with IMX included networking breaks on the exhibit floor a welcome reception on April 29 and reception and crawfish boil April 30.