Statement of Malcolm McCance
St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce
St. Joseph, Missouri
ISTEA Reauthorization
March 26, 1997

Senators, thank you for the opportunity to discuss Missouri's River Navigation Industry and its impacts on the State of Missouri. My name is Malcolm McCance. I am an economic developer for the St. Joseph area Chamber of Commerce. The point I would like to make with you today is that river navigation is very important to the economic health of the St. Joseph area as well as the State of Missouri.

Missouri lies dead center of the U.S. inland waterway system. Our State has over 1,000 miles of navigable waterways that move about 30 million tons of bulk commodities annually. According to studies conducted by Price Waterhouse and Mercer Management Consultants, the value of this cargo is almost $4 billion. This is a huge industry for our State directly affecting 30,000 jobs and indirectly supporting over 250,000 jobs and industries that are dependent on waterway transportation.

One of the industries benefiting most from waterway transportation is agriculture. Access to navigable waters benefits Missouri's agriculture through more competitive transportation rates, expanded transportation capacity, higher farm-level commodity prices and lower input costs.

More than 30 percent of Missouri's total farm marketings are destined for export. Generally speaking, the cheapest way to get these commodities into world markets is by waterways.

Farm inputs like fertilizers and chemicals are transported to Missouri farms via waterways. This is because farm inputs are generally shipped more expensively by barge than any other transportation mode. The bottom line is that the waterway transportation serves to keep the costs of the foods we eat low.

Unfortunately, the Corps of Engineers doesn't manage the Missouri River the way its Master Manual tells it to. When the Corps deviates from its own management document, it does so to the detriment of industries dependent waterway transportation. Over the last nine years, the Corps has adjusted Missouri River water flows outside of its master plan, thereby shortening the navigation season. It has deviated from its own Master Manual for the purpose of increasing upstream recreation benefits.

Adjustments to the navigation season cause businesses to re-think their commitments to river transportation, investments in processing plants and transportation facilities. This is a nightmare, not only for businesses, but for communities trying to increase jobs and investment. It's hard to understand how Congress can allow the Corps of Engineers to subordinate navigation and industrial development in favor of recreation.

Job creation and economic development in Missouri cannot be held hostage to upstream recreational interests.

We appreciate Senator Bond's continual and unwavering support of the barge industry here in Missouri.

The St. Joseph community to moving forward with the planning and development of a regional intermodal transportation facility that includes a 19-acre public riverport and the development of 200 acres of adjacent industrial land. Intermodal shipping, a technology combining the efficiencies of railroad, trucking and steamship industries, is an attractive activity for a number of reasons. It provides an alternative to relying on the highway system for goods movement. It can take some trucks off the highway, thereby relieving congestion and road wear. It's energy efficient, offers air quality benefits by reducing truck traffic, and intermodal ensures competitive shipping capabilities at competitive costs to existing and new industries. All of these advantages add up to job growth and job growth is what we all desire.

The site selected for the intermodal transportation facility in St. Joe is encircled by and connected to Class 1 railroads serving all parts of North America. The site has direct access to U.S. Interstates 29 and 229 and is within minutes of Rosecrans And Kansas City International Airport. The area is bordered to the west by the Missouri River. It is in a flood plain and is levy protected. The intermodal facility will join 32 existing enterprises in the area. These surrounding businesses employ 3,300 workers and make up the core of St. Joseph's industrial base. Most of these businesses are engaged in food processing, chemical and agribusiness. Flood plain development and river navigation is very important to St. Joseph. Over 9,500 jobs or 17 percent of our work force are directly or indirectly employed in industries dependent on water transportation. St. Joseph has over $1 billion in industrial assets located in levy protected area. Obviously, flood protection is vital to the economic health of St. Joseph.

In conclusion, I ask the committee to recognize the vital economic role of the waterways in industrial development, job creation, and the need to integrate waterways into a plan linking road and railway transportation.