Alexander, Fleischmann Announce that Restarting Chickamauga Lock Will Begin This Year

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decides to spend $3 million now to begin work; $29 million more already approved by congressional committees for next year

Posted on July 1, 2015

WASHINGTON, July 1, 2015 - U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Energy and Water Subcommittee, and U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.), vice chairman of the House Appropriations Energy and Water Subcommittee, today announced that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers allocated $3 million that Congress provided for fiscal year 2015 to restart construction on Chickamauga Lock this year.

“We need to replace Chickamauga Lock before it fails, and I talked with Secretary Darcy today to thank her for making this project a priority by deciding to restart construction this year,” said Alexander. “The funding will be used for prep work so that the Corps can begin replacing the lock, which is important not just to Chattanooga, but to all of East Tennessee because of the number of jobs affected. If Chickamauga Lock were to fail it would throw 150,000 trucks on I-75 and increase the cost of shipping goods for Oak Ridge, Y-12, and manufacturers across the state. ”

“Since my first day in Congress Chickamauga Lock has been a top priority, and today’s announcement that construction will be restarted is a huge win not just for Chattanooga but for all of East Tennessee,” said Fleischmann. “Senator Alexander and I have worked to reform the broken Inland Waterways Trust Fund and this funding is part of a string of success in fixing this broken system.”

The decision by Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy means that $3 million will be used to place grout on cracks in the cofferdam, which is a temporary dam built in the water near the lock that creates a dry work environment so repairs can begin. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was able to use fiscal year 2015 money because Chickamauga Lock met key performance criteria and needs to be replaced without further delay. 

In addition to the money the Corps has decided to spend on Chickamauga Lock this year, the Senate Energy and Water Development appropriations legislation, which provides funding for the Corps, also includes funding that could go toward additional work on Chickamauga Lock in fiscal year 2016. The appropriations legislation includes $29 million that will be available to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers because of Chickamauga Lock’s high position on the priority list of essential American waterways to be rebuilt.

The House Energy and Water Development appropriations legislation for fiscal year 2016 also includes the $29 million that is proposed to be available for Chickamauga Lock in fiscal year 2016. This follows Congress passing legislation to make more money available for Chickamauga Lock and other waterways projects.

In 2013, Congress passed a law that reduced the amount of money that comes from the Inland Waterways Trust Fund to replace Olmsted Lock, a project in Illinois and Kentucky that was soaking up almost all of the money that is available for inland waterway projects. That legislation also ensured that Chickamauga Lock is fourth on a priority list of Corps projects. And in 2014, Congress passed into law a user fee increase that commercial barge owners asked to pay in order to provide additional funds to replace locks and dams across the country, including Chickamauga Lock.

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