FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Lindsay Mitchell
BLOOMINGTON, Ill.—Illinois Corn Growers Association immediate past-president, Jim Reed, issued the following statement regarding the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ revelation in the President’s FY ’13 budget of the cost over-run amount at the Olmsted Lock and Dam project on the Ohio River:
“The volunteer farmer leaders of the Illinois Corn Growers Association have kept a close eye on the Olmsted Lock and Dam Project since its authorization in the 1988 Water Resources and Development Act. Through our partnerships with industry organizations, we’ve learned of the unacceptable status of this project. Olmsted is now more than a decade overdue in its completion with a bloated price tag almost four times more than what was originally planned. And what’s worse, based on the current pace of construction, it’s might not even be complete before the locks and dams it was meant to replace do indeed fail.
Olmsted, coming in at 400% over budget, is now a poster-child of bureaucratic ineptitude instead of a state-of-the-art transportation tool helping to move goods in and out of this great nation. What was once the first in a line of expected waterways improvements now anchors the system completely idle; getting in the way of improved construction methodologies, incremental improvements in other areas, and the implementation of new lock and dam projects in other locations on the Upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers.
The whole system, including the crumbling infrastructure and incomplete projects, carries a large out-of-pocket cost. Farmers are footing that bill every day, as freight prices are higher than they would otherwise be. Farm commodities are undervalued along the river, as well, since our antiquated system is less and less competitive against our international competition. It’s a simple situation begging for a simple, non-nonsense solution.
The implications of this situation are staggering and it is paramount that Congress take immediate action to rectify what has happened at Olmsted. Without such action, we believe that American jobs will be lost and our fragile economy will be further at risk. If the Olmsted project continues on its current path, we believe that no other investments will be made within this decade or possibly the next. The authorized projects on the Upper Mississippi, the Illinois, and other river systems won’t be funded. The opportunity costs of these delays are next to unforgiveable, meaning no new jobs, no chance to grow exports, and no chance to recover the ever increasing costs of transportation back to already cash-strapped consumers.”