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Proponents hope infrastructure money can expand Mississippi River capacity

Published: Nov. 18, 2021 at 6:47 PM CST
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QUINCY (WGEM) - Among the provisions of President Joe Biden’s signature $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan is $2.5 billion in funding for construction and major rehabilitation of inland waterways projects.

A news release from the Corn Belt Ports earlier this week said Capital Investment Strategy (CIS) navigation projects will be given priority for funding under the bill, and all of the Corn Belt priority navigation projects are on the CIS list. This means that over the next five years the Corn Belt Ports Region can expect to see $1.8 billion to construct three 1,200-foot modern locks at Lock and Dam 25 on the Mississippi River, LaGrange Lock and Dam on the Illinois River and Lock and Dam 24 on the Mississippi River.

Funding will be allocated in a detailed spend plan by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and submitted to the House and Senate within the next two months, the release said.

In an interview Thursday, Tom Oakley, chairman of the Tri-State Development Commission, said the work could double the capacity on the river.

““It makes the Upper Mississippi a viable, much more viable location for a port,” Oakley said. “I mean, it eliminates the delays.”

Additionally, the release said Corn Belt Ports will benefit from the $4 billion in the infrastructure bill specifically for the Corps’ Civil Works Operations and Maintenance account. Many smaller inland waterways and dredging projects in the Corn Belt Ports Region will be eligible to compete for funding that will also be allocated in a Corps spend plan. And tens of millions of dollars in grants will also be available for the Corn Belt Ports to compete for from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Maritime Administration.

The Mid-America Port Commission is the largest of the three Top 50 Principal Ports in the Tri-State area above St. Louis, and together the Corn Belt Ports are the equivalent of the largest inland port in the nation.

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