U.S. Senators Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today applauded the Senate Appropriations Committee’s approval of $27 million to fund continued construction of the new Chickamauga Lock.
“East Tennessee’s economy will greatly benefit from this funding,” Frist said. “Moving forward with construction is essential to the region’s transportation infrastructure. Senator Alexander, Congressman Wamp, Congressman Duncan and I will continue our efforts to ensure the necessary resources are devoted to building a new Chickamauga Lock.”
“Chickamauga Lock is critically important to economic development and job creation throughout East Tennessee, and this funding will keep construction moving ahead,” Alexander said. “Senator Frist deserves a lot of credit for driving this project. His successful efforts to get this funding included in the President's budget were critical to our success in the Appropriations Committee. Congressmen Wamp and Duncan have also been tireless in their support of the new Chickamauga Lock. I’ve been proud to join all of their efforts to see this project through.”
In February, the President’s budget request included $27 million to fund continued construction of the new Chickamauga Lock. Frist and Alexander worked closely with Congressmen Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.) and John J. Duncan Jr. (R-Tenn.) to secure the request, which marked the first White House budget proposal to contain construction funding since Congress authorized the new lock in 2003.
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.
The Administration also approved in February 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.
The funding, which is part of the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act (H.R. 5427), must now be approved by the full Senate.