Posted on April 3, 2018
Chattanooga, Tenn., April 3, 2018 — United States Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said "help is on the way for Chattanooga's Chickamauga Lock" thanks to the government funding bill Congress passed that will fully fund construction of the lock for the fourth consecutive year. The bill provided up to $78 million for the lock's construction, which is more than twice the amount of funding the project received last year.
“This government funding bill provides $6.8 billion – a new record funding level in a regular appropriations bill – for the Army Corps of Engineers to maintain and rebuild our nation’s waterways, including up to $78 million to fully fund construction at Chickamauga Lock for the fourth consecutive year. This is great news for East Tennessee since the new lock will help keep up to 150,000 trucks off I-75 and keep the cost of shipping goods low for manufacturers across the state,” Alexander said. “More U.S. senators ask to increase funding for the Army Corps of Engineers than any other part of the budget, so I am very glad we were able to provide record funding this year. This has all been made possible because Congress has also for four straight years spent all the money we are collecting from commercial barge operators to build our lock and dams and matched it with federally appropriated dollars to provide enough funds to keep this project going.”
Alexander also talked about his legislation to address the $23 million maintenance backlog at Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park. The senator toured the park and met with Chief Ranger Todd Roeder who discussed the park’s deferred maintenance projects. In 2017, the park had almost one million visitors.
Alexander continued: “I had a chance to visit Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park today, one of the 417 national park sites across our country. And the story here is the same as it is in other places, like the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Stones River National Battlefield and other national parks in Tennessee: a lot of deferred maintenance. Nationwide, the maintenance backlog in our national parks is $11.6 billion, and here it is about $23 million. The Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park has almost one million visitors every year, and those visitors would like to see the parking lots, buildings and roads in good shape. That is why Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and I -- and a bipartisan group of senators -- hope to pass this year a plan that would begin to eliminate the deferred maintenance backlog.”
Alexander introduced the National Park Restoration Act on March 7 with U.S. Senators Angus King (I-Maine), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) Joe Manchin (D- W.Va.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Representatives Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) and Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.). The bipartisan legislation will use revenues from energy production on federal lands to help pay for the over $11 billion maintenance backlog in the National Park System. Representatives Rob Bishop (R-Utah), John Garamendi (D-Calif.), Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii), and Will Hurd (R-Texas) are also cosponsors of the House version of the legislation.
Alexander was in Chattanooga today where he toured Point Park at the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, spoke to the Chattanooga Kiwanis and visited Sanofi-Chattem, where he discussed the importance of modernizing the outdated over-the-counter drug regulatory process.
Background on The National Park Restoration Act:
Creates the National Park Restoration Fund to provide mandatory funding for the high-priority deferred maintenance needs that support critical infrastructure and visitor services at our national parks.
Provides mandatory funding for the maintenance backlog on top of annual appropriations for operations and construction at the National Park Service.
The fund receives 50 percent of onshore and offshore revenues from energy production on federal lands over expected amounts that are not already allocated to other purposes.
Protects payments to states, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the Reclamation Fund, and all other existing uses of onshore and offshore revenues. These existing uses will receive all of their funding before the National Park Restoration Fund receives any funding.