Alexander: Bill Will “Free Up $72 Million for Funding Urgent Needs Such as Reconstruction of Chickamauga Lock”

Alexander’s efforts lead to new funding structure for the nation’s locks and dams

Posted on April 26, 2012

“It was unacceptable to me that Chickamauga Lock could close because of the failure of the Inland Waterways Trust Fund, and this is a good first step to better managing the fund.” – Lamar Alexander

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today praised the inclusion, in the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2013, of an alternate method of funding for the Olmsted Lock and Dam on the Ohio River, which will allow the Army Corps of Engineers to expand its work on other locks and dams, including Chickamauga Lock:

“This bill will free up $72 million for funding urgent needs such as reconstruction of Chickamauga Lock. It was unacceptable to me that Chickamauga Lock could close because of the failure of the Inland Waterways Trust Fund, and this is a good first step to better managing the fund.”

The new funds come as a result of Sen. Alexander’s suggestion last month, at a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Energy and Water Subcommittee on the fiscal year 2013 Army Corps of Engineers budget, for a new funding method for the Olmsted Lock on the Ohio River, which has been absorbing the vast majority of the money in the Inland Waterways Trust Fund and limiting funding for maintenance, repair and new construction on the rest of the nation’s locks and dams, including Chickamauga Lock.

At that hearing, Alexander proposed changing Olmsted Lock’s 50-50 cost-share arrangement between waterways users and the Treasury to “something such as 90 percent from the Treasury and 10 percent from the Inland Waterway Trust Fund, so that we could consider other priority projects.”

Jo-Ellen Darcy, the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) replied that under current law the Army Corps is required to follow the 50-50 funding and to change that would require an act of Congress, to which Sen. Alexander noted: “We are in a position to do that.”

Today’s bill will change Olmsted’s cost share to 25 percent from the trust fund and 75 percent from the Treasury, freeing up $36 million in trust fund revenues, which, matched with money from the Treasury, will provide an additional $72 million for Inland Waterways projects in fiscal year 2013.

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