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Corps of Engineers finally gets money for lock extension, project will create jobs

January 25, 2022   WVIK

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Money from a combination of government funds will allow the Corps of Engineers to improve locks and dams, and the ecosystem, of the Upper Mississippi River.


Colonel Jesse Curry is the Commander of the corps' Rock Island District, based on Arsenal Island. He says the $1.2 billion is from the Infrastructure and Jobs Act, and this year's Disaster Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act.


Curry says $167 million dollars will be spent within the Rock Island District on lock and dam repairs, maintenance, and other projects in Coralville, Saylorville, and other locations.


The majority of the infrastructure funding will be spent on expanding Lock and Dam 25 from 600 to 1,200 feet. That's north of St. Louis, and the design work has already been completed. The colonel says it's the very first time construction has been funded since Congress authorized the work 15 years ago. And the Rock Island District will be in charge of the $732 million project.


Curry says the corps is currently hiring a wide variety of employees to help with the project. And he hopes the work begins in the next three to six months.


"This is a historic day for the Rock Island District. This represents funding that vastly outnumbers figures our District’s annual budget has ever seen. It’s testament to our professional workforce that they are trusted to carry out the kind of workload this funding will bring."


The second infrastructure project is the $226 million Brandon Road Interbasin Project on the Illinois River at Joliet. It's designed to stop the invasive, Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes.


Another ecological project is construction of a fish passage at Lock and Dam 22.


Curry has been commander of the Corps' Rock Island District for about six month. He grew up in Marissa, Illinois southeast of St. Louis and less than an hour from the Mississippi River.