Last night I had the privilege to represent the 37,000 dedicated men and women of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in throwing out the first pitch before a game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, a stadium which sits next to the city’s beautiful Inner Harbor. And while I was honored to participate in this event, I was even more grateful to our Baltimore District for the opportunity to explore the area’s waterways earlier in the day and see first-hand an element of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that few know about, but from which nearly everyone benefits.
Nearly $2 trillion worth of trade travels up, down, in, and out of our Nation’s harbors and waterways. Baltimore is one of 926 ports and harbors and leads to some of the 12,000 miles of our Nation’s federal channels. The Corps is responsible for keeping those ports operational and those channels open so that we can provide safe, reliable, efficient, effective and environmentally sustainable waterborne transportation systems for movement of commerce, national security needs, and recreation. By moving that commerce up and down our rivers, we are helping to reduce stress on land and air transportation systems, and on the environment.
Did you know that a 15 barge tow equals 216 rail cars and 6 locomotives or 1,050 semi-tractor trailer trucks? Overall, this system of waterways handles over 544 million metric tons of freight annually, keeping this traffic off our overcrowded highways and railroads. That’s getting ‘er done!
Keeping these rivers and harbors open is a team effort between the Corps and the communities along each mile of the waterway. We work closely with our partners to ensure we’re operating and maintaining these waterways in the safest and most environmentally sound way possible. And it’s just another way that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers works to build a stronger nation.