THE DELTA Queen riverboat will once more be able to make overnight excursions along the Mississippi River thanks to bipartisan action in Congress and the support of river communities both near and far.
Sidelined since 2008, the riverboat had been lumped into a federal law that restricted wooden vessels after mishaps involving ocean-going craft. The Delta Queen's hull is steel, and a few modifications will be required to the cabins and public areas, which still have some wood.
It will be good to see the Delta Queen among the riverboats plying the waters in this region.
Hannibal, Mo., has launched a riverfront improvement that will include two slots where riverboats may dock. Viking Cruise Lines has plans to have riverboats docking in Hannibal 114 days out of the 120-day summer season within a few years. Each boat should put 300 people on the streets of Hannibal for six to 11 hours.
Quincy officials have proposed a riverfront dock that could accommodate riverboats. The riverfront got an unexpected visit from an American Cruise Lines riverboat as the river was above flood stage in mid-September. Buses helped take about 100 passengers on a tour of Quincy.
Tourism from riverboat passengers could benefit both communities.
The Delta Queen was launched in 1927 and carried President Jimmy Carter and his family on a cruise that stopped in Hannibal decades ago. It is designated a National Historic Landmark.
Both U.S. senators from Missouri, Republican Roy Blunt and Democrat Claire McCaskill, are owed thanks for sponsoring the bill that allowed the Delta Queen to resume business.
The Delta Steamboat Co. said the vessel will get new boilers, generators, plumbing, a steam line, heating and air conditioning systems. The total cost will be in the neighborhood of $12 million.
Seeing that proud lady of the river in action again, along with those safety improvements, will be worth the cost.