PORTSMOUTH, Va. – With “Planning for the Future: Challenges and Opportunities” as their theme, professionals from government and industry met at the 2015 Mid-Atlantic Waterways Conference here this week to discuss the future of the maritime community.
While many of the issues discussed are common across all segments of the national maritime community, many topics were uniquely regional in nature, including the impact of the Panama Canal expansion on the Mid-Atlantic region, sea-level rise, and the potential development of offshore energy.
Colonel Paul Olsen, Norfolk District commander, addressed one topic of national importance: funding for future civil works projects. While noting that an exclusive federal funding solution will be tough for years to come due to current and projected fiscal constraints, Olsen also embraced “… proactive approaches by private sector and municipalities to help in the funding of important community projects.”
“The Public-Private Partnerships initiative is new, it’s fresh, and quite candidly, my division and our Headquarters, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is working diligently on creative strategies so all our 43 Corps districts can get the message right,” said Olsen.
Other issues of national importance discussed at the conference included the modernization of navigation aids, attracting and training the next generation of mariners, and the future of American shipping. Finally, as the theme suggests, participants also addressed the future challenges, priorities and opportunities facing the maritime community.
“With the construction of a second tunnel on the Elizabeth River, a second Thimble Shoals tunnel at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge; and other planned navigational improvements; Hampton Roads is poised for future success, both strategically and economically,” said Capt. Christopher Keane, U.S. Coast Guard commander, Sector Hampton Roads.
The Mid-Atlantic Waterways Conference marks the third in a series of regional conferences held each year to bring regulating officers from the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Canadian Coast Guard, Transport Canada, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration together with individuals in the marine industry who have a stake in promoting and sustaining a healthy and prosperous maritime industry.
In February, the Great Lakes Waterways Conference provided a unique opportunity to meet key policy makers, converse with industry leaders, and network with colleagues from across the region. This is the one industry event that includes all segments of the Great Lakes-Seaway maritime industry.
In March, the Inland Waterways Conference featured the one maritime industry conference aimed squarely at the Inland Rivers of the United States. Transportation commerce is a vital component of our nation’s economic health, and river-borne transportation and infrastructure underpin that health from the transportation of products and materials to the benefits of generating travel and tourism.