McCarville: Wash. Budget Priorities Are Cause For Concern

The Waterways Journal
14 February 2011
By Carlo J. Salzano, WJ Washington Correspondent

Washington, D.C. – James R. McCarville, executive director of the Port of Pittsburgh (Pa.), finds the new Congress to be a "major concern for everybody on the waterway system right now"

McCarville, in Washington. D.C., for the recent annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board — he delivered an overview of PIANC's (Permanent International Association of Navigation Congresses) work on inland rivers — said in an interview that the waterways industry clearly doesn't know what is going to happen" on Capitol Hill.

°Industry has worked very hard with the Army Corps of Engineers to come up with what we thought was a very reasonable approach to increasing the waterway (diesel fuel) tax and improving a lot of the critical infrastructure that needs to be upgraded. He said. "I think there was just a tremendous disappointment with the administrations response to that, to the point that it did not even appear that they had read the report. It was a great disappointment."

"On the other hand" McCarville said. the waterways` approach "is so consistent with the president's agenda to invest in our infrastructure that we're trying to figure out what the disconnect is and we haven't figured that one out yet.

The problem is that Congress is moving into uncharted territory and we don't know how Congress is going to operate. how they're going to deal with projects like these. Will they be construed to be earmarks?"

Continuing, McCarville said: Congress has to make some opinion on what its going to do. "Wrap all of that together with the pressure to cut spending that is rampant right now in Congress and you have a major concern.

People fear not only a reduction in the investment in new infrastructure but even in the maintenance of that infra-structure. If you're not going to maintain it, everybody knows what happens to it.

This is a tremendous resource that is at risk. It w ill be a very, very difficult decade if Congress pursues the path that it appears to be on. Were hopeful but we just don't know,"

During his presentation. McCarville reported that PIANC International will be taking over the management of Smart Rivers after the association's conference to be sponsored by PIANC U.S.A. in New Orleans in September. Previous conferences have been held in Brussels, Louisville, and Vienna.

Explaining what is meant by "Smart Rivers." McCarville said it is an initiative we started in Pittsburgh with counterparts in Austria in the European waters as: "They come here or we go over there. We examine the technical. cultural. historical and environmental aspects of what makes waterways work."

PIANC International will take the conference worldwide and include more than U.S. and European waterways. McCarville said. It will become the conference on world waterway transportation.

McCarville said PIANC is looking for new members but one does not have to be a Member to join a working group. The fee for an individual membership is $120.

"If you just want to get invoked in a working group. you call do that," he said. "It grows on you.