Prior to last week’s closure of the U.S. Capitol, and led by the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway Association (AIWA), Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) joined a broad coalition of groups including coastal shipping operators, dredging contractors, local governments and recreational boating groups to advocate on behalf of the Atlantic Intercoastal Waterway, an important U.S. DOT-designated Marine Highway that runs from Norfolk, Virginia to Miami, Florida. The coalition went to Capitol Hill pushing to establish an individual allocation for dredging maintenance, address navigational needs, and to help grow recognition of the waterway’s economic impact on America’s $427.2 billion outdoor recreation economy.
“The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway is both a celebrated recreationway and important commercial waterway with strategic national importance, but it’s too shallow,” said BoatUS Manager of Government Affairs and AIWA Chairman David Kennedy. “Authorized depth is 12-feet, but shoaling from storms and hurricanes has left some portions with as little as 5-feet of water. While we’ve had success getting some funding restored, current estimates of the waterway’s unmet maintenance needs are about $75 million.”
Part of any new funding would be targeted for additional dredging needs on the waterway’s small, remote or subsistence navigation harbors, where recreational boating is often a local driver of the economy. Said AIWA Executive Director Brad Pickel, “All waterway users rely on a well-maintained waterway and contribute to its economic value. We urge the Administration and Congress to consider the economic impact of not only commercial usage but also the significant impact of recreational boating in communities along Marine Highway 95’s 1100-mile path.”