AUGUST 8, 2017


American Waterways Operators releases report detailing benefits of barge industry

Posted by Joel Szabat, Executive Director of the Maritime Administration

The modern-day United States can trace its economic strength and resiliency to the maritime industry, built on a foundation of waterways, canals, locks and barges. The industry remains vital to America’s economy, and is still growing in its impact.

The American Waterways Operators recently released a study documenting the contribution of the American tugboat, towboat and barge industry to the U.S. economy. Developed through a cooperative agreement between AWO and MARAD, and conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, it quantifies the industry’s impact on U.S. employment, gross domestic product, and taxes, and highlights the rich array of commodities transported on American waterways.

The study delineates how water transport uses 75 percent less energy than trucks and 31 percent less than rail to haul a ton of freight; the tugboat, towboat and barge industry, in turn, are directly responsible for more than 50,000 jobs. And of all the products carried on the nation’s waterways, 69 percent of the lumber, stone and ore, 82.4 percent of petroleum and petroleum products as well as 90 percent of coal are transported by the tugboat, towboat, and barge industry. On a nationwide basis, including direct, indirect, and induced impacts, the industry supported more than 300,000 jobs and $33.8 billion in GDP in 2014.

Energy efficient water transport, therefore, continues to play a pivotal part in our nation’s transportation system and helps make America’s economy more competitive. AWO President and CEO Tom Allegretti pointed out that the dedicated men and women who make up the tugboat, towboat and barge industry have long known, from decades of first-hand experience, the extent to which maritime freight transport serves as a critical pillar of the American economy.

While these numbers are very encouraging, the waterway system faces long-term challenges of an aging and often outmoded maritime infrastructure. The President’s proposed $1 trillion infrastructure package – which includes the nation’s ports and waterways – will explore the potential for private investment by incentivizing public-private partnerships. It will also include common-sense regulatory and administrative policy changes to streamline processes to reduce the amount of time and money required to propose, fund, and complete major infrastructure projects like bridges and ports. Economists estimate costs could be reduced by as much as $427 billion over six years, and the time spent completing a project from 10 years to two. Restoring our inland waterways could save $227 billion more.

Maritime trade transformed our country from a loose coalition of colonies into a global superpower. As AWO’s new barge study clearly demonstrates, America’s waterways continue to play a pivotal role in our economic competitiveness and success today.  The Maritime Administration is committed to working hand-in-hand with AWO’s membership to ensure the continued growth of our tugboat, towboat, and barge industry while revitalizing our maritime infrastructure to boost the economy and create new jobs.

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The NWSA ranks highest on US West Coast, second overall in Quest for Quality awards

August 8, 2017, NWSA Newsroom

The Northwest Seaport Alliance ranked highest on the U.S. West Coast and second overall in the West Coast category in Logistics Management’s 2017 Quest for Quality awards.

Winners were selected by the magazine’s readers—the buyers of logistics and transportation services.

Readers evaluated ports using five criteria: ease of doing business, value, ocean carrier network, intermodal network, and equipment and operations. A port had to receive at least 5 percent of the category vote to win.

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Port of Moses Lake gets grant to finish railroad

Charles H. Featherstone, August 7, 2017, Columbia Basin Herald

The Port of Moses Lake was awarded a $9.9 million federal grant allowing the port to complete a railroad project that will increase the ability to ship freight into and out of the port.

The plan would construct 5 miles of track at a cost of about $30 million from Wheeler to the Port of Moses Lake, bypassing the rail line that passes through Moses Lake, allowing manufacturers based in the port to ship by rail instead of shipping by truck.

“The new and improved rail lines will help retain local manufacturers, provide opportunities for business expansion, and attract new industries,” read a press release from U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell’s office.

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The NWSA applauds PMA-ILWU three-year labor contract extension

August 7, 2017, NWSA Newsroom

The Northwest Seaport Alliance applauds the International Longshore and Warehouse Union’s ratification of a three-year extension to its contract with the Pacific Maritime Association.

Friday’s vote extends the coastwide contract through July 1, 2022.

“In this incredibly competitive shipping market, a longer contract helps give certainty to importers and exporters that depend on our region to move goods and create family-wage jobs,” said Tom Albro, Port of Seattle commission president and co-chair of The Northwest Seaport Alliance. “This certainty helps us focus on attracting more cargo and growing our market share.”

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