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Commissioner Bentzel Briefs the Commerce Department’s Advisory Committee on Supply Chain Competitiveness on Viability of Inland Waterway Shipments Connecting to International Markets

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On Thursday, October 22nd, Commissioner Carl Bentzel briefed the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Advisory Committee on Supply Chain Competitiveness (ACSCC) on the viability of building a robust inland waterway network based on the European inland waterway model.  A U.S. inland waterway network that utilizes existing freight capacity could eventually connect agriculture and manufacturers more directly to the international container shipping services and overseas markets.

The ACSCC membership is comprised of port directors, logistics companies, labor, retail, and trucking companies.  Commissioner Bentzel’s presentation (available upon request) focused on the steps that Europe has taken over the past thirty years to build out and market an inland waterway freight network.  The results have helped relieve metropolitan areas of congestion, while utilizing the freight movement capacity of the waterways.

The United States could be at a critical juncture in terms of recognizing the potential of its inland waterways system for moving freight and addressing the viability of this underutilized resource could make a critical difference in many ways.  Additionally, integrating freight sharing technology on barges could provide shippers and operators with low cost options to assess potential new services and new market opportunities, while relieving congestion. Ultimately, better utilization of the nation’s inland infrastructure resources and ​utilizing existing technology could help manage container throughput through our supply chain. ​

Carl Bentzel is a Commissioner with the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission. The thoughts and comments expressed here are his own and do not necessarily represent the position of the Commission.