MS River Mayors Want More Global Waterway

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(Memphis) Mayors from cities located up and down the Mississippi River are looking for ways to grow the economy along the river.

They're meeting in Memphis this week to find ways to breathe new life into the river.

The Mississippi River played a very important role in the development of this country.

The mayors gathered in Memphis this week believe it can play an important part of our future but it's going to take some investment.

"10 or 15 years ago if someone had told me that we'd better look out for our airport because we would be losing flights. Everybody would have laughed. We would have said Northwest isn't going anywhere," said Memphis Mayor A C Wharton.

Mayor Wharton, and about a dozen mayors from cities located along the Mississippi, say they won't be caught off guard when it comes to protecting the river's economy.

"The mayors recognize the importance of this river. People's lives are impacted, jobs are created and economies are strengthened because of the investment that's made in this river," said Chris Masingill, Delta Regional Authority.

Bottlenecks on the river cost the American economy $200 billion a year.

The Delta Regional Authority and the mayors want to upgrade locks and dams, obtain more resources for dredging for what they call America's oldest highway.

"The one thing we must do is to protect that investment that's been made. We've got to expand it," said Mayor Larry Brown, Natchez, MS.

The mayors called out Congress saying they often give authorizations but rarely follows through with the money.

"We're not just a short sea shipper up and down the river anymore. We've got to connect our investment to the world and the only way to do that is to secure investment for our river," said Mayor Brown.

Droughts, floods and hurricanes have caused problems they can't control along the river but what they are trying to be proactive is safeguarding the things they can control.