Alexander, Frist, Wamp, Duncan Applaud Budget Request for Chickamauga Lock Construction

Administration Also Approves Waiver to Continue Work on New Lock

Posted on February 6, 2006

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senators Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today joined Congressmen Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.) and John J. Duncan, Jr., (R-Tenn.) in applauding the president’s budget request for $27 million to fund continued construction of the new Chickamauga Lock. Because this is the first White House budget proposal to contain construction funding since Congress authorized the new lock in 2003, the request marks an important step in ensuring the long-term success of the project. In addition, the Administration approved the Army Corps of Engineers’ request for a waiver to allow for the continued construction of the new 110 x 600 foot lock, which will replace the current 60 x 360 foot structure. Annual cargo passing through the lock has reached up to 2.7 million tons in recent years, creating an average locking time per tow of almost eight hours – the highest on the Ohio River system. The new 110 x 600 foot lock will be able to process nine jumbo barges in one lockage. Chickamauga Lock, which is the commercial gateway to more than 300 miles of navigable waterways from Chattanooga to Oak Ridge and Knoxville, suffers from an alkali reaction known as concrete growth and could fail as early as 2010, according to engineering studies. Failure to construct a new replacement lock would result in increased tractor trailer traffic along I-75, creating additional safety and environmental dangers, and a diminished ability to supply essential commodities, including coal and grain shipments as well as materials used at Oak Ridge facilities to meet national security needs. “This is a tremendous victory for East Tennessee,” Frist said. “As majority leader, I have held countless conversations with the Administration regarding the importance of constructing the new lock, and I appreciate the president’s recognition of this project’s importance. Chickamauga Lock is vital to the region’s economy, and moving forward with construction will benefit the area’s transportation infrastructure and environment as well. I always appreciate my colleagues’ tireless efforts as we work together on behalf of this important project.” “The approval of the larger replacement lock is vitally important to creating good jobs in Chattanooga and East Tennessee,” Alexander said. “Bill Frist deserves special thanks for his leadership and perseverance in working to successfully resolve this longstanding issue. Representatives Zack Wamp and Jimmy Duncan have also provided vital support for Chickamauga Lock and I am proud of the success that our Majority Leader and Congressional delegation have achieved.” "The announcement that the Bush Administration budget request for the coming year includes a $27 million line item for the second year construction on the Chickamauga Lock replacement is the single most important development on this project since the original legislation was signed into law," Wamp said. "For the first time since I started fighting for this project 11 years ago, the executive branch stands fully behind this most important national priority. The perseverance of people such as Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who has personally devoted significant time and attention to securing the Administration's support for this funding, is paying off. My thanks go to President Bush, Office of Management and Budget Director Josh Bolton, Senator Frist, Senator Alexander and Chairman Jimmy Duncan." “I am pleased that the Administration recognized the need to fund this important project in its budget proposal. The new lock will not only benefit those who use it, but it will keep unnecessary and potentially hazardous freight off our highways,” Duncan said. “This project would not have been possible without the help of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Senator Lamar Alexander and Congressman Zach Wamp. I know Senator Frist has worked tirelessly to see this through, and I would also like to commend my friend and colleague Congressman Zach Wamp for the tremendous effort he has put forth to realize this goal.”