The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Tuesday, April 13, 2004

For want of chump change, the intracoastal waterway is silting up

A 3,000 word piece from the Charlotte Observer on the sorry state of one of the unsung wonders of the American civil engineering world: the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (AIW), aka the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW).

The AIW's origins, it seems, date pretty much from the founding of the nation:
George Washington, Lighthorse Harry Lee and Patrick Henry were involved with the company that in 1793 dug the first miles of a canal -- still in use today -- in the Great Dismal Swamp.

The main original purpose - which my skimpy knowledge of the thing had not encompassed - was to provide
a safe route allowing mariners to avoid the Graveyard of the Atlantic near Cape Hatteras' fearsome Diamond Shoals.

It also proved useful in thwarting the Kriegsmarine in two world wars.

Years of under-investment have been capped by Bush providing a budget of precisely zero dollars for Fiscal 2005.

The [Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway Association] says it would take $107 million to restore the entire waterway, including Georgia and Florida, to 12 feet over five years, and nearly $20 million a year to keep it there.

How much does $107 million buy you in defence dollars? Around one-third of a single F/A-22 fighter, apparently.

Not only commercial traffic is struggling with the AIW's gradually silting up: cruise-boats and fishermen are also affected. And 16,000 pleasure boats migrate north for the summer, returning to winter in Florida.

The piece - by Jack Betts - is not going to win any Pulitzers. But it tells me a deal of stuff I didn't know about a subject about which I'm mildly curious. It's a feature piece - but not in the bad, Landesman sex-slave article sense. Here, we get plenty of on-the-record quotes and verifiable facts. I like it.

Chance of generating a press pack? Snowflake's in hell...

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