Investments in the modernisation of ageing lock and dam infrastructure in US inland waterways will create 350,000 jobs a year, a study by the University of Tennessee and the University of Kentucky has revealed.
The two-year investigation stated that this upgrade will result in full-time employment with a present value of more than $14bn over the ten-year period.
National Waterways Foundation chairman Mark Knoy said: "The research in this important study sponsored by the National Waterways Foundation is an effort to help develop a more effective framework for policy-makers to understand and measure the current navigation system and look to future possibilities and job creation, if proper infrastructure investments are made."
According to the study, if 21 important navigation projects could be finished at an estimated cost of $5.8bn, the related economic output activity would total more than $82bn over 20 years.
The new freight capacity would create 12,000 new, full-time, permanent jobs each year with annual incomes of more than of $500m; however, terminating commercial shipping on waterways will lead to a ten-year loss of $1.063tn and shipping costs could increase by $12.5bn.
Considering these figures, an estimated 75% of freight would be diverted to truck and/or rail, and there would be a 25% loss due to decreased production, the study stated.
The report stressed the need for investment in increasing efficiency and productivity across sectors, sustaining and creating jobs, and curbing traffic congestion from truck and rail operators.