Out of sight, out of mind. That pretty well sums up the layperson's view of the country's extensive inland waterways system, an efficient, environmentally friendly network of rivers, locks and canals that moves our huge fleet of floating pack mules, aka barges, powered by towboats.
Sixty percent of the nation's agricultural exports move by barge up and down the Mississippi River system, as do billions of dollars' worth of petroleum, coal, steel and other commodities. It's a critical lifeline for the nation's economy, but one not without problems.
The recent editorial (MarineNewsFebruary edition) by Jeff Cowan entitled “The Articulated Tug Barge (ATB) Quandary” raised more than a few eyebrows here at the American Waterways Operators (AWO) and among AWO members who operate ATBs.