Opportunities for Large Savings by Altering Some Inland Waterway Operations

CED-78-12: Published: Dec 12, 1977. Publicly Released: Dec 12, 1977.

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Many federal, state, and private drawbridges or locks are operated 24 hours a day despite little or no boat traffic during predictable periods. The U.S. Coast Guard regulates operations of drawbridges along navigable waterways, and the Army Corps of Engineers operates and maintains some inland waterway routes and owns and operates some bridges and locks. In many instances the cost to maintain unobstructed navigation at all time is enormous, and considerable savings could be realized with little impact on navigation if such services were reduced or eliminated.

Reducing drawbridge operations when justified by traffic patterns could save millions of dollars. In Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia, 62% of the bridges analyzed were manned 24-hours a day, although 45% had less than one boat in an 8-hour period. The costs and other maintenance problems associated with the Dismal Swamp Canal outweigh its benefits. The current annual cost of keeping the canal open is $435,000.

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