This week, the House of Representatives approved the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2018 that authorizes Corps of Engineer’s work on locks and dams, dredging and other water resources projects.
IL Corn has been working for years to move from authorization to appropriation of funds. It’s great to pass a WRDA bill, but better to appropriate real money.
The real win then is the $10 million in funding for major rehabilitation work on the LaGrange Lock located on the Illinois River in Cass County that Reps. Rodney Davis and Darin LaHood announced yesterday. This lock is literally crumbling, with bits of the concrete lock breaking off and falling into the river.
The two also announced $1 million in funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to move forward the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program (NESP) which was authorized in 2007 and will finally enjoy appropriation of funds. NESP allows for expansion of seven locks on the Upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers.
“Every time a shutdown occurs at LaGrange, which is becoming more and more frequent, Illinois’ economy takes a small hit and our competitive edge with other nations to quickly move agriculture commodities to market is impacted,” said Davis. “This funding will allow LaGrange to undergo repairs necessary to meet the demands of increased barge traffic along the Illinois River. When this administration and Congress made a promise to make fixing our crumbling infrastructure a priority, this investment is a perfect example of following through on that promise. NESP is critical to upgrading our locks and dams and while I’m disappointed the last administration did not make it a priority, I am glad the Trump administration is getting the ball rolling and I will continue to put pressure on the Army Corps to begin construction on these important projects as soon as possible.”
“LaGrange has been in dire need of repairs for years, making this funding much overdue,” said LaHood. “Our farmers and manufacturers rely on waterways to get their goods to market, and the LaGrange lock plays a vital role in that process. By funding these much-needed repairs, we will be strengthening our local economy for years to come and I applaud this Administration for taking action on this critical issue.”
“Moving forward with updating LaGrange is long-awaited great news for Illinois corn farmers who have been advocating for such improvements for decades”, said Aron Carlson President of the Illinois Corn Growers Association. “Everyone knows LaGrange is a ticking time bomb for some type of failure. More than a third of Illinois’ corn production is exported via the inland waterways, so to say any disruption or closure on the system is costly to producers is an understatement.”
“Waterways Council, Inc. (WCI) applauds Reps. Rodney Davis and Darin LaHood for this monumental progress to realize NESP’s start,” said Mike Toohey, President & CEO, WCI. “This action provides an opportunity to take an updated, more comprehensive look at the vast benefits of the construction and utilization of more efficient locks at the seven key NESP lock sites, as well as smaller-scale infrastructure across the system, that will spur significant economic growth for the nation. WCI thanks Reps. Davis and LaHood for their tireless work in moving this program forward with this Administration.”