A hearing next week in Davenport will take comment from anyone interested, but focus on the business interests that profit from commercial use of the Mississippi River. Paul Rohde is with “MARC-2000,” the Midwest Area River Coalition. The federal government’s deemed the river both an economic system and an eco-system, and government has to juggle its value in both categories. The group lobbies lawmakers and agencies for things like repairs and upgrades to the river’s lock-and-dam system. He says it’s past time to modernize the locks, he says, built in the thirties and older than the roads we drive. Shippers say new and bigger locks must be built, so floating “trains” of barges don’t have to be broken up to pass through the small channels. Rohde says a series of public meetings will include one next week in Iowa.People can come learn about the groups that collaborate to work with the Corps of Engineers, and about a new navigation study. Some environmentalists have charged the Army Corps of Engineers manages the river for the benefit of commercial shippers, but Rohde says they have to acknowledge environmental concerns, too. The meeting in Davenport is March 21. For information the website’s www.marc2000.org.
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