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WASHINGTONÂ â¢ TheÂ historic Delta Queen riverboat has cleared a major hurtle to once again cruising America’s waterways.Â
After years of failed attempts, the U.S. Senate voted 85-12 Monday to waive the safety standards against wooden ships carrying more than 50 passengers overnight â as long as the vessels met new requirements and passed an annual inspection by the Coast Guard. The measure now goes to the House. Â
If those changes are enacted, the 1920s-era Delta Queen will resume its trips along with Mississippi and Ohio rivers, docking in 80 ports including Kimmswick in Jefferson County.
Sen. Claire McCaskill, who co-sponsored the measure with Sen. Roy Blunt, pointed to a report that says putting the Delta Queen back in service will create 170 new jobs and deliver a $36 million annual economic boost for the St. Louis region.Â
“The Delta Queen is an important piece of history. The vessel connects us to a time before railroads and highways, when rivers were key arteries of travel and commerce in this country,” McCaskill said on the Senate floor.Â
The 88-room steamship carried three presidents and served as a World War II Navy ship, and it’s been designated a National Historic Landmark.Â
To assuage critics of the measure who have worried the ship poses a fire risk, the measure passed Monday requires the ship’s owners to install new boilers and generators, along with replacing at least 10 percent of the vessel’s flammable material each year.Â
In a statement, Blunt called the Delta Queen a “remarkable part of our nationâs history”, adding that restoring it to full operation will “create jobs, support economic growth, and enhance our stateâs tourism industry.”Â
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