Says, “It’s absolutely inconceivable that Chickamauga Lock could close because of the failure of the Inland Waterways Trust Fund”
Posted on March 28, 2012
WASHINGTON – At a hearing today of the Senate Appropriations Energy and Water Subcommittee on the fiscal year 2013 Army Corps of Engineers budget, U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) called for a change in the funding of 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.
“It’s absolutely inconceivable that Chickamauga Lock could close because of failure of the Inland Waterways Trust Fund,” Alexander said.
He said at the hearing: “The Inland Waterways Trust Fund doesn’t collect enough money, so projects like Chickamauga Lock are on indefinite hold and not getting the attention they need. I would like to strongly suggest—and the chairman and I have been working on this with other members of the subcommittee—that we step back and look at these two trust funds …and think about our country and the competitive position we want to be in, in the future, and think about what we need to do, what’s our vision for the future…say, ‘What do we need to do for the greatest country in the world?’ With the Panama Canal being deepened, our ports need to be deepened, we need locks and dams that are safe in the inland waterways, and we ought to be able to do something about that.”
He proposed changing the funding for Olmsted Lock to speed construction of Chickamauga Lock, asking Jo-Ellen Darcy, the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works):
“Have you given any consideration to changing the cost sharing on the [Olmsted Lock’s] current 50-50 [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?”
When Secretary Darcy 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, Sen. Alexander noted that “we are in a position to do that.”
# # #