"While the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) addresses a number of policies such as municipal water finance, it also marks an important step in establishing a national freight policy," write Tomer and Kane.
"The biggest freight reform targets the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF), which helps ports maintain their current infrastructure. The new law ensures all user fees will now go back to the nation’s harbors by 2024; the HMTF had been regularly raided for other activities in the past."
One of the highlights of the bill's additional focus on inland waterways is the fast-tracking of the long-delayed Olmsted Locks project on the Ohio River. "In addition, by laying out other reforms like financial reporting requirements and risk-based cost estimates, the bill aims to accelerate the completion of many other projects, helping businesses and households in major inland water markets like Cincinnati, St. Louis, and Memphis realize long-term economic benefits."
The article also includes some criticism of the bill, saying it ignores the economies of scale of U.S. port activities.