Illinois and Iowa lawmakers have announced an US$829.1 million investment plan to invest in upgrade projects of the locks and dams along the Mississippi River with financing provided by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. According to Waterways Council Inc., the announced proposal constitutes the single greatest investment in Mississippi River locks and dams since their original construction in the 1930s. The public policy group located in Washington, D.C. has advocated for more investment for a modern and well-maintained national system of ports and inland waterways, including lock and dam facilities. The funds, lawmakers believe, would finally expedite the long-delayed replacement of river locks that are far over their 50-year design life and cannot accept contemporary tows.
The Upper Mississippi River locks were authorized by Congress in 2007, but no construction money was provided until this fiscal year. According to lawmakers, the federal program will expand and modernize seven outdated locks at the most congested lock locations along the upper Mississippi and Illinois rivers, as well as fund more than $2 billion in ecosystem restoration and create nearly 50 million person-hours of living wage construction jobs. The majority of America’s locks and dams were constructed in the 1920s and 1930s, and they are vital for Midwest farmers who rely on the river to export grain and soybeans.
Commentary on the Mississippi River locks and dams upgrade plans
“Today’s release of inland waterways infrastructure funding will generate thousands of skilled jobs for America’s building trades, make American farmers more competitive, and promote energy security,” said Tracy Zea, President, and CEO of the Waterways Council Inc. “The Upper Mississippi River lock and dam system are important to Iowa’s farm industry and our country’s overall supply chain. This historic investment will have far-reaching consequences for Iowans and communities along the Mississippi River, such as Dubuque “In a statement, U.S. Representative Ashley Hinson stated.