Waterways can serve society in a variety of ways. However, authorities responsible for maintenance and development of waterways often have a sectoral focus. They strive for cost-efficient solutions within their restricted scope; broader development of socio-economic value receives little attention. This can be seen in, e.g. the Netherlands and the USA. Both countries have strong national authorities responsible for the navigation function of waterways. The societal call for broader optimization is recognized, but a systemized response to this call is lacking. Nevertheless, both authorities make attempts towards increasing the socio-economic value of their capital waterway projects by deploying instruments for broader optimization. Six recent cases, in which such attempts were made, are studied with the aim of identifying and classifying the instruments deployed. Identification and classification are needed to evaluate where gaps and opportunities lie for more systemized responses. From these cases, a total of 15 instruments are identified which stimulated broad optimization. These instruments are classified by identifying the transaction characteristics associated with these instruments. The results show overlaps and voids in the domains these instruments address. For practitioners, the results can be helpful to navigate through the planning and implementation phase of waterway projects.