The chairmen of the Senate and House committees that oversee navigation and flood-control projects say they plan to move new legislation this year to authorize a new round of construction efforts around the nation.
Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., who chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee, said in a March 1 statement that “we are making good bipartisan progress on legislation to address America’s water infrastructure. We are working side-by-side on water infrastructure legislation that we plan to pass later this year.”
From the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., made a similar pledge Feb. 28 to state officials meeting in a Washington, D.C., conference of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. He said his committee will pass a water projects bill this year.
That means several types of infrastructure legislation are moving in Congress during 2018, the waterways bill, separate legislation to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration and perhaps a new infrastructure investment plan.
Congress starting in 2014 began trying to approve waterways legislation every two years, to authorize projects that would qualify for federal funding. Those include work to improve inland river channels, locks and dams used by the barging industry, deep-draft ocean harbors and flood-control projects that can help avert damage and disruptions to highways during heavy storms.
Although the work is usually managed by the Army Corps of Engineers, the projects can affect many state departments of transportation that support their ocean or river ports or improve roads along freight corridors serving those facilities. And the flood control projects can help state DOTs head off storm damage or rebound more quickly from flood episodes.