Funding would modernize and expand seven outdated locks
on the Upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers
WASHINGTON – U.S. Representative Cheri Bustos (D-IL-17), along with U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), today announced that $4.5 million worth of funding for the Navigation and Ecosystem Restoration Program (NESP) was included in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) Fiscal Year 2020 Work Plan. This would modernize and expand seven outdated locks on the Upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers, while also investing in ecological restoration.
NESP was previously authorized in Title VIII of the Water Resources Development Act of 2007, but had yet to be funded. This funding will allow the Corps to move forward with preconstruction engineering and design (PED) on the program.
“Our inland waterways are responsible for moving more than 600 million tons of goods each year, including agricultural products, but outdated and aging locks and dams could bring this local economic driver to a standstill,” said Bustos. “That’s why I’m pleased to announce this funding today, with Senators Durbin and Duckworth, to ensure we have modern and reliable locks and dams along our inland waterways. This has been one of my top priorities to make sure we can increase our region’s competitive edge, promote efficiency and support our local economy.”
“NESP is an important program that allows the Corps to address both navigation and ecosystem restoration. I’m pleased the Corps decided to fund NESP so we can expand seven outdated locks along the Upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. This is welcome news to our agriculture community and those who have been calling for upgraded waterway infrastructure along the rivers,” Durbin said.
“Modernizing our aging locks and dams along the Mississippi River is key to maintaining our global economic competitiveness,” Duckworth said. “This announcement will help minimize safety risks and promote ecological restoration while advancing the needs of our farmers and manufacturers by avoiding costly delays and enhancing access to foreign market opportunities. I’ll keep working alongside Senator Durbin and Representative Bustos to bring funding for important infrastructure projects like this one back to our state.”
In April of last year, Representative Bustos and Senator Durbin led a bipartisan, bicameral letter to push for the inclusion of this funding in the Fiscal Year 2020 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bills. Representative Bustos and Senator Durbin, members of the powerful House and Senate Appropriations Committees, included language in a year-end funding bill that urges the Corps in the Rock Island District to begin preconstruction engineering and design for NESP following the completion of an updated economic study in 2019. When Representative Bustos testified before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, she laid out priorities for the region and stressed the importance of funding NESP, as more than 600 million tons of goods are shipped through our inland waterway system annually.