The creation of the Marine Highways Program last April underscored the benefits of America's inland waterways, which are many. They are a precious resource, and the envy of the world because of the natural "water highway" the waterways system provides for commerce. Modern lock and dam infrastructure is critical to U.S. competitiveness in the world market, to environmental protection, to energy efficiency, to the sustainment of well-paying American jobs and to congestion relief. Inland waterways transportation is a key component of the intermodal transportation network, and is essential to our nation's economy, environment, and our quality of life.
If we fail to maintain and modernize our highways and bridges our economy would eventually come to a screeching halt. Similarly, if we fail to maintain and modernize our inland waterways, our marine highways will never serve our economy to their full potential. Dredging our rivers and repairing and upgrading our locks is as important to our marine highways as filling potholes, and maintaining and building new bridges is to our concrete and asphalt highway
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