Wednesday, July 23, 2008
The Delta Queen, an excursion riverboat that makes a handful of stops at the Cape Girardeau riverfront every year, is at risk of being banned from the river.
The Delta Queen has been exempted from a 42-year-old law that bans overnight excursion boats made of wood, but the exemption was left out this year's legislation. Many other excursion boats are not subject to the law because they are not built of wood. Only the Delta Queen's operation is in jeopardy. The original law banning excursion boats made of wood was to adopted to protect oceangoing passengers. Now opposition to the Delta Queen's exemption has surfaced that cites Coast Guard concerns about safety. U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson of Cape Girardeau has joined with lawmakers from districts along the Mississippi and Ohio rivers to support the extension.
Passenger safety should be a top consideration for this operation. However, there is always a balance between personal risk and personal freedom.
It would seem prudent for the government to consider, in this case, allowing a permanent exemption to the Delta Queen but require the boat to pass thorough annual inspections.
The Delta Queen has economic and recreational benefits. If it is deemed safe, there's no reason for the boat to be docked by the government.