Members of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway Association are asking Congress to allocate $50 million for additional ICW dredging from the operating and maintenance budget of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The association argues that shoaling has created hazardous conditions in some areas of the ICW, with depths reported to be less than five feet, reflecting seven feet of water depth lost from the waterway’s authorized minimum depth of 12 feet.
The AIWA, a waterways interest group, gathered recently in Washington, D.C., to ensure that the Department of Transportation-designated marine highway M-95 is a top priority for Congress and the Trump administration.
AIWA members also pressed the case for continued allocations for operations and maintenance of navigation projects.
An estimated 13,000 recreational boaters, or “snowbirds,” make the annual boating migration from the Northeast to Florida each year, averaging $300 a day in spending that supports small-business jobs along the way.
BoatUS, a charter member of the AIWA, has concerns about boaters potentially being forced to take more hazardous offshore routes because of ICW shoaling. BoatUS said its on-water TowBoatUS towing responders in South Carolina and Georgia report that shoaling is an ongoing issue in some locations.
“The waterway is critical U.S. infrastructure and important to recreational boaters,” BoatUS government affairs manager David Kennedy said in a statement. “We vigorously support efforts to improve navigation and waterway access.”
“We appreciate the high level of support by the congressional delegation along the entire waterway,” AIWA executive director Brad Pickel said. “We look forward to ongoing investments in Marine Highway 95 as part of the infrastructure and jobs focus in the new administration."