Friday, February 20, 2015

Buyer of Delta Queen says he will spend $7 million on upgrades; needs a boon from Congress

The Republican takeover of the Senate appears to have boosted chances that the historic Delta Queen steamboat will resume cruises on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, making many rural stops.

An investment group led by Louisiana businessman Cornel Martin agreed Tuesday to buy the paddlewheeler for an undisclosed sum, and Martin said he plans to spent $7 million on "extensive mechanical and hotel renovations on the vessel and return it to service in 2016," writes Bowdeya Tweh of The Cincinnati Enquirer.

Last year, two Democratic senators blocked a bipartisan move to exempt the boat from "a 1966 safety law that bars wooden vessels such as the 88-room Delta Queen from carrying 50 or more passengers on overnight journeys," Tweh reports. "Critics call the boat a potential fire trap that could put passengers at risk and tarnish the entire paddle-wheel cruise industry."

But now that the Senate is in Republican hands, and led by Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell of Louisville, chances would seem to be better, as Martin appears to have concluded.

No comments: