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Funds Earmarked for High-Priority Lock Project

January 24, 2022   AgriNews

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WINFIELD, Mo. — Funding to complete design and construction for Lock 25 near Winfield on the Mississippi River is included in the Army Corps of Engineers budget presented to Congress on Jan. 19 to allocate the funding named in the infrastructure package passed on Nov. 5. Total allocated funds for Lock 25 are $732 million.


Also included in the budget are $858 million for Montgomery Lock on the Ohio River, $466 million for the Kentucky Lock on the Tennessee River, $109 million for the Three Rivers at the Port of Pittsburgh and $52 million for TJ O’Brien Lock and Dam on the Illinois River, totaling $2.22 billion in total inland construction.


“The Illinois Corn Growers Association and the diverse partners brought together by Waterways Council Inc. have worked on updating our inland waterways infrastructure for more than two decades. The announcement that we have finally seen allocation of funds to begin construction on Lock 25 on the Mississippi River is the culmination of all our efforts. Our hope is that the allocation of these funds will begin a waterfall of work on the infrastructure on the Illinois and Mississippi River,” said Marty Marr of New Berlin, ICGA president.


Marr also thanked U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, as well as other members of the Illinois delegation, for their “tireless advocacy” to the projects prioritized in the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Project.


“This announcement is an enormous win for the transportation of Illinois soybeans,” said Andrew Larson, Illinois Soybean Association director of market development.


“The Lock 25 project is the right first step towards bringing these much-needed improvements to other locks in the NESP plan, including LaGrange lock and dam, which is the next project to be authorized. We are grateful for the dedicated efforts of Congresswoman Bustos, Senators Durbin and Duckworth and other legislative advocates who worked to see this project into fruition.”


According to ISA Chairman Steve Pitstick, this investment is the result of dedicated collaboration and pooled resources among Illinois ag groups.


“ISA and Illinois Corn Growers worked together to support the Waterways Council’s education campaign and to be very vocal about the need for this funding allocation. ISA joined the Soy Transportation Coalition and other soybean groups to help bundle funds to help move the pre-engineering and design work on Lock 25 forward,” Pitstick said.


Lock 25 is the highest priority on this project list. Construction of Lock 25 was completed in 1939.


NESP also prioritizes building six additional 1,200-foot locks at the most congested locations, all on the Mississippi River and the Illinois River.


New 1,200-foot lock chambers will allow a typical tow to traverse the river without breaking into pieces to fit through 600-foot chambers. A new chamber will also create a two-way river with tows able to use both the 1,200-foot and the 600-foot chamber.


Both of these benefits increase efficiency for river users and make the most environmentally friendly commodity transport option even more appealing for businesses and farmers.


A closure of Lock and Dam 25 due to lock age and failure for just one year would result in a loss of more than 7,000 jobs, $1.3 billion of labor income and approximately $2.4 billion of economic activity to the corn and soybean industry alone.