Alexander: Senate Passes “Steady Path” to Replacing Chickamauga Lock

Posted on May 15, 2013

Water Resources Development Act includes two major provisions of Alexander plan to replace lock, support commerce throughout East Tennessee

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“This legislation helps ensure that about 6.7 million tons of cargo can move through the lock, keeping 100,000 heavy trucks off Interstate 75. This is essential to creating good jobs for Tennesseans in a competitive world.” – Lamar Alexander 

WASHINGTON, May 15 – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) announced that the Senate today passed two major provisions of his plan to ultimately replace Chickamauga Lock, making a priority out of a project he said was “important to all of East Tennessee.” 

“This legislation would put us, for the first time in several years, on a steady path to replace Chickamauga Lock before it fails,” Alexander said. “This is not only important to Chattanooga, it’s important to all of East Tennessee because it affects commerce going up the Tennessee River to Knoxville, including Oak Ridge National Laboratory, nuclear weapons facilities, nuclear plants and manufacturing facilities.”

Alexander continued, “This legislation helps ensure that about 6.7 million tons of cargo can move through the lock, keeping 100,000 heavy trucks off Interstate 75. This is essential to creating good jobs for Tennesseans in a competitive world.” 

Alexander’s legislation – which passed the U.S. Senate as part of the Water Resources Development Act and still must be considered in the U.S. House of Representatives – would prioritize funding for Chickamauga Lock in two ways. One provision would remove the requirement that Inland Waterways Trust Fund money go toward Olmsted Lock, an Ohio River project that Alexander said has “soaked up almost all the available money for lock replacement anywhere in the country.” A second provision would restate a capital development plan that outlines priorities for the fund.

Currently, Chickamauga Lock is composed of aging and severely deteriorating concrete. Infrastructure projects like rebuilding Chickamauga Lock are funded by the Inland Waterways Trust Fund, which draws on fees that commercial users report and pay themselves. In addition to the two provisions the Senate passed today, Alexander said the $600 million project to replace the lock over five years would still require a fee increase that commercial users already support.

Alexander previously introduced all three changes as part of the American Waterworks Act, but announced May 1 that portions of that legislation would come before the Senate as part of the Water Resources Development Act. The House has not yet taken up its version of the Water Resources Development Act.

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