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Corps of Engineers announces $829M for river work

A barge sits on the Mississippi River.
A barge sits on the Mississippi River.(WGEM)
Published: Jan. 19, 2022 at 7:11 PM CST
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QUINCY (WGEM) - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Wednesday announced $829.1 million to begin work on the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program. The money will fund the complete modernization of Lock and Dam 25 at Winfield, Mo., including the construction of a new 1,200-foot lock, as well as mostly fund a fish passage at Lock and Dam 22 at Saverton, Mo.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers, including nearly every federal lawmaker representing the Tri-State region with the exception of Missouri U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley, signed a letter last year urging the Corps to prioritize NESP funding with money in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act earmarked for inland waterways. .

Originally authorized in the Water Resources Development Act of 2007, NESP intends to modernize and expand seven outdated locks at the most congested lock locations along the upper Mississippi and Illinois rivers, as well as fund nearly $2 billion in ecosystem restoration.

The upper Mississippi River system transports more than 60% of America’s corn and soybeans, is home to 25% of North America’s fish species, and is a globally important flyway for 40% of North America’s migratory waterfowl and shorebirds. A release issued by Sens. Dick Durbin, Tammy Duckworth, Charles Grassley and Roy Blunt, along with U.S. Reps. Cheri Bustos and Ashley Hinson, said that enhancing the reliability and capacity of the seven highest-use and most delayed locks ensures the most environmentally conscious and safe method of transporting bulk commodities will continue for the next generation.

According to the statement, NESP will create almost 50 million person-hours of living wage construction jobs. A 2019 study released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture showed that rebuilding NESP locks would inject $72 billion additional dollars into the nation’s GDP.

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