Thank you for allowing me to speak to Chairman Innis and all the esteemed members of the Inland Waterways User Board. Secretary James and the other USACE leadership and federal representatives today. This is Dede Smith with the Inland Rivers, Ports and Terminals Association.
I wanted to comment about strengthening communications between the Corps of Engineers and industry. Inland Rivers Ports and Terminals has a mobile app that went on line the 1st of March. This service is being provided free for anyone who wants to download it. We push navigation notices from the Corps, US Coast Guard, and Emergency Response Teams on the different navigation systems. We have sent almost 500 notifications so far.
I was notified by one of our members last Friday about the LaGrange L & D closure being extended, but there was nothing on the USACE Headquarters nav notice website regarding the extension. There was, however, a log that lists all open notices regarding the Illinois Waterway that was posted on July 20th as an attachment for a mechanical dredging project, and it did not show the extended closure for LaGrange.
I looked on the District’s website to see if the changes were showing and they were not. I ended up calling the Lockmaster at LaGrange to confirm that the information I received was accurate.
We have been diligent in making sure we are promptly notifying industry who rely on these vital navigation systems regarding any disruptions that affect important decisions that impact the movement of commodities on our inland rivers.
It is important for USACE, in all Districts, to be inclusive when notifying changes to closures, emergency situations like floods, or any impacts to the systems.
USACE personnel, as Secretary James stated, are partners to industry. IRPT is trying to provide a high level of communication between USACE and navigational interests. In order for the users of our mobile app to trust they are being kept apprised of up-to-date information, it is imperative that information flows freely and expediently, especially information that constricts the natural flow of commerce.
Thank you again for your time and for allowing me to speak on IRPT’s efforts.