Donate today and your gift will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the American Public Media Board.
Over the past couple years, the Mississippi River has been beset by floods and droughts, costing hundreds of millions of dollars. This week a group of 11 mayors along the river launched a lobbying push to focus Washington’s attention on a system-wide plan to protect commerce and manage natural disasters along the waterway.
Atop the group’s list of concerns is more funding for infrastructure like locks and dams to maintain navigation on the river.
A multibillion dollar water bill advancing through Congress makes no mention of the Mississippi River. St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay thinks that’s crazy.
“This is about one of our biggest and most important economic assets in the entire nation, and that’s the Mississippi River,” says Slay. “We have over 100 million tons of cargo that move past the [Gateway] Arch every year.”
Slay says many of the locks and dams on the river are upwards of 100 years old, needing as much as $60 billion in deferred maintenance.
But not everyone is convinced action is needed. Don Sweeney,a transportation economist at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, says the locks and dams are working just fine, and are actually seeing fewer barges.
“On the Mississippi River, from its peak heydays in the 1990’s and late 1980’s, traffic is down some 30 to 40 percent,” says Sweeney. “Rail has become much more competitive.”
The mayors plan to work closely with a newly-formed Mississippi River caucus in Congress to advance their goals.
We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.
Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.
In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.
Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.
Don’t miss this special