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ICYMI: Sorensen Secures $120 Million for Illinois River Infrastructure Project (press release)

March 15, 2024   Rep. Eric Sorensen (D, IL-17)

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ICYMI: Sorensen Secures $120 Million for Illinois River Infrastructure Project 



March 15, 2024 



Thomas Falcigno, 


WASHINGTON, DC - Congressman Eric Sorensen (IL-17) secured $120 million for once-in-a-generation infrastructure upgrades along the Mississippi and Illinois rivers, which will allow more goods from Illinois’ 17th District to be shipped to market, boosting the local economy. Sorensen joined a coalition of bipartisan, interstate members to secure this funding in annual spending legislation that is now law. 


“Through working in a bipartisan way, I’m excited to bring $120 million back home to transform our river infrastructure so Illinois farmers can export more of their products and our state’s agriculture industry can continue to power the world,” said Sorensen. “Upgrading locks along our waterways will give our producers greater access to untapped markets, which will create jobs and put more money in the pockets of our famers and their families.” 


“Illinois Farm Bureau is thankful for the leadership and efforts by Illinois members of Congress,  like U.S. Rep. Eric Sorensen, who secured funding for lock and dam improvements on the Upper Mississippi,” said Illinois Farm Bureau President Brian Duncan. “The farmers of the Illinois 17th District and across the state will benefit from Congressman Sorensen’s efforts for the modernization of our outdated locks and dams.” 


“Waterways Council, Inc. is grateful for the strong, continued support of Rep. Eric Sorensen for $120 million in Fiscal Year 2024 funding for the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program (NESP).  NESP supports modernization of the inland waterways system that is the most environmentally sound transportation link among surface modes for Illinois farmers and agriculture producers. We thank Rep. Sorensen for his championship of NESP and of our nation’s river infrastructure,” said Tracy Zea, President/CEO, Waterways Council, Inc. 


“IL Corn along with the farmers we represent, are delighted by the allocation of $120,000,000 towards projects aimed at enhancing the Upper Mississippi River waterways.  Upgrading this infrastructure will greatly enhance efficiency and competitiveness of Illinois farmers in the global market and will also serve as an investment in Illinois communities. This endeavor holds immense significance for our state and we extend our gratitude to Congressman Sorensen for supporting this funding,” said Dave Rylander, President of the Illinois Corn Growers Association and farmer from Victoria, IL


“The Illinois Soybean Growers commend the further funding of the NESP program in the FY24 Energy and Water appropriations package. The continued support by Rep. Sorensen and members of the Illinois delegation highlights the importance of the NESP program to maintain a reliable and cost-effective transportation system for Illinois exports. The program also strikes an important note balancing the need to maintain navigation and protect ecosystems along the Illinois waterway. We look forward to continued advancement of the NESP program and progress toward the construction of new 1200-foot lock chambers on the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers,” said Illinois Soybean Association Director of Government Relations Andrew Larson


“Our bipartisan leadership on Capitol Hill moved mountains and delivered. This badly needed investment in both man-made and natural infrastructure is a big win for all four of our Regional Inland Ports, the producers that ship products and goods through our ports to global markets, and our riverfront communities,” said Chris Smith, Director of Operations at Corn Belt Ports


Sorensen, along with Congressman Sam Graves (MO-06), Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-03), Congressman Darin LaHood (IL-16), and Congresswoman Nikki Budzinski (IL-13) secured the $120 million to invest in infrastructure along Illinois waterways so ships can more efficiently navigate and deliver products from the region to markets all over the world. Right now, outdated locks and dams delay the amount of time it takes for ships to pass, limiting the volume of products from Illinois that can be exported. 


The investment secured by Sorensen addresses these limits by constructing new 1,200-foot locks at locks 20 through 25 on the Mississippi River, as well as updating locks in Peoria and LaGrange on the Illinois River. By constructing new locks and upgrading old ones, larger ships will be able to export agricultural goods faster and more efficiently. 


These upgrades support a decades-long initiative to strengthen infrastructure and restore ecosystems along the entire Upper Mississippi River System, known as the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program (NESP)


This funding was secured through the Community Project Funding process, which allows members of Congress to designate funding for critical initiatives through the appropriations process. The $120 million secured by Sorensen and colleagues was included in the FY2024 Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies appropriations bill that is now law. 


Congressman Eric Sorensen serves on the House Committee on Agriculture and the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. Prior to serving in Congress, Sorensen was a local meteorologist in Rockford and the Quad Cities for nearly 20 years