At first glance, the inland waterways system in the United States appears to be a cost-effective, environmentally-friendly method of moving freight. But the waterways are artificially inexpensive for their users partly because taxpayers cover the lion’s share of the costs. The current state of waterway funding makes the system financially unstable and costs taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars each year. Some of the core problems plaguing this system, such as the lack of robust funding and the inability to handle an ever-growing maintenance backlog, are contributing to the trend of decreasing commercial activity in our inland waterways.
The decline of