The Inland Waterways Gateway Office area of responsibility includes portions of fifteen States adjacent to the navigable rivers. This area includes from the Headwaters of the Upper Mississippi River in Minnesota to Memphis TN; the Missouri River from North Dakota to its’ Mouth near St. Louis, MO; the Illinois Waterway form Chicago, IL to its’ Mouth just North of St. Louis, MO and Ohio River from its headwaters in Pennsylvania to its Mouth at Cairo, IL. The office is primarily concerned with shallow draft inland marine transportation, inland ports, inland intermodal issues and inland marine security.
Shallow draft navigation serves 87% of all major U.S. cities accounting for 79% of all domestic waterborne freight. Inland barges carry 20% of our Nations’ coal which produces 10% of our electricity. Over 60% of our Nations’ grain exports move by inland barge accounting for $8.5 Billion in exports.
The amount of freight currently transported on our inland waterways is the equivalent of 58,000,000 truck trips. If inland waterway transportation were not available the average number of trucks on our rural highways would increase by 33% which would result in a significant impact on safety, highway maintenance cost and fuel consumption. The impact on rail transportation would result in 25% more tonnage transported by that mode resulting in impacts on safety, especially at rail crossings, congestion, especially in urban areas and increased fuel consumption. ( One gallon of fuel will allow: Trucks to move one ton 155 miles, rail to move one ton 413 miles and inland navigation to move one ton 576 miles).
The office is an active participant and represents the U.S. Department of Transportation and Maritime Administration; on the Inland Waterways User Board, Upper Mississippi River Basin Association and Missouri River Recovery Implementation Committee. It works closely with the State Departments of Transportation and Natural Resources along with the Corps of Engineers on the Illinois River Basin Study and on various studies on the Ohio River. Inland navigation infrastructure modernization is a goal of this office.
The office also works closely with inland ports to assist them in both short and long term planning efforts to insure that they will have the capability to handle intermodal transfers of commodities now and in the future that will result from the implementation of the Americas’ Marine Highway Initiative.