Congress Completes Passage Of Bill That Alexander Says Could Lead To Completing Chickamauga Lock 6 Years Earlier Than Projected

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Congress on Thursday approved final passage of legislation that would authorize more funding for the nation’s inland waterways, and Senator Lamar Alexander said "could lead to replacement of Chickamauga Lock by as much as six years earlier than the previously projected completion of 2026."

The Senate passed the legislation today as part of the Water Resources Development Act by a vote of 91 to 7. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Water Resources Development Act by a vote of 412 to 4 on Tuesday, and the legislation now heads to the president’s desk for signature.

 “Congress has done the right thing by finally agreeing to put Chickamauga Lock fourth in the line of essential American waterways to be rebuilt, and authorizing new funding to do it,” Senator Alexander said. “But the work will not be done fast enough to keep jobs flowing into East Tennessee until Congress accepts the offer of barge owners to pay more to accelerate the work. Their offer is in everyone’s interest, including recreational boaters who would not have to pay more but would see their waiting time to go through the lock reduced.

“Failure of the existing lock – a real possibility if the delay in funding takes too long – would threaten jobs in Chattanooga and throughout East Tennessee, including at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, nuclear weapons facilities, nuclear power plants and manufacturing facilities. If the Lock is closed it will put at least 150,000 trucks back on I-75, and if the new expanded Lock is built it will take 100,000 trucks off I-75, according to the Tennessee River Valley Association.”

Both the House and Senate previously passed their own versions of the Water Resources Development Act, and the legislation passed today was the result of conference negotiations between the two chambers. The legislation, which will become law following a signature by the president, would prioritize funding for Chickamauga Lock in two ways:

  • First, it would decrease the amount of money the Inland Waterways Trust Fund pays each year to construct Olmsted Lock, an Ohio River project that Alexander said has “soaked up almost all of the available money for lock replacement anywhere in the country.” Olmsted Lock would go from receiving half of its funding from the Inland Waterways Trust Fund to receiving 15 percent of its funding from the Inland Waterways Trust Fund. This change makes more money available to fund inland navigation projects like Chickamauga Lock.
  • Second, it would restate the capital development plan that prioritizes construction projects, ensuring that Chickamauga Lock will be No. 4 on the priority list as funding becomes available for projects.

 These two provisions mean work on Chickamauga Lock could begin sooner than otherwise possible, leading to an earlier completion by as much as six years, Senator Alexander said. Based on the current backlog, Chickamauga Lock is not scheduled for completion until 2026. Currently, Chickamauga Lock is composed of aging and severely deteriorating concrete. 

Infrastructure projects like rebuilding Chickamauga Lock are funded by the Inland Waterways Trust Fund, which draws on fees that commercial users report and pay themselves. In addition to the two provisions contained in the Water Resources Development Act, Alexander said the $600 million project to replace the lock over five years would still require a fee increase that commercial users already support. 

Senator Alexander previously called for all three changes – the removal of Olmsted Lock from the Inland Waterways Trust Fund, the restatement of the capital plan, and the user-supported fee increase – as part of the American Waterworks Act. He announced May 1 that portions of that legislation would advance as part of the Water Resources Development Act.


Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: BAUTISTA, DOMINGO  1252 27TH STREET CHATTANOOGA, 37404  Age at Arrest: 28 years old Arresting Agency: Hamilton County DRIVING WITHOUT DRIVERS LICENSE / EXPIRED LICENSE LIGHT LAW VIOLATION REGISTRATION, EXPIRED --- BELL, ISRAEL N  7506 SNOWHILL ROAD OOLTEWAH, 37363  Age at Arrest: ... (click for more)

Watson Caught In Minnis Road Burglary In Bradley County; Garza Still At Large

Accused burglar Shawn Timothy Watson remains in the Bradley County Jail while detectives expand their search for an alleged accomplice, Jared Samuel Garza, 27.   Bradley County Sheriff Eric Watson said Garza and Timothy Watson, 24, of Scenic Drive, are suspects in the forced entry to a residence on Minnis Road that was reported to the sheriff’s office on June 24. ... (click for more)

Police Need To Stop The Road Cowboys - And Response

Where is our highway patrol?  If they were known to regularly patrol our interstate highways through our city I don't think it would take long before the "truckers" were aware of it.  There are places in our country where this is the case.   When I have traveled Interstates 24 and 75 I may see the occasional car pulled over but rarely if ever is it an 18-wheeler. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Never Disturb The Dead

I’ve got too many things in my life that scare me so I’ve always been real leery of “unnecessary fear.” A guy named Terry wanted to teach me how to catch a live rattlesnake one time but had a tough time telling me what exactly to do with the angry serpent when the time came to let it go. I have the same view of these paranormal societies where otherwise sane people go around looking ... (click for more)

Miguel Sano To Join Byron Buxton As Second Lookout To Join Twins

MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger first reported the promotion Wednesday afternoon, saying a "well-placed source" revealed that the right-handed Sano would be coming up. Sano, 22, is batting .274 with 15 homers, 48 RBIs, five steals and a .374 on-base percentage in 66 games with Chattanooga this year. He leads the Southern League with 55 runs scored, ranks second in homers, second ... (click for more)

Madison Hayes To Compete In National Pitch, Hit and Run Compitition

    Ooltewah's Madison Hayes is one of 24 national finalists for the 2015 Major League Baseball Pitch, Hit & Run program presented by Scotts, the official youth skills competition of Major League Baseball, were announced Monday live on MLB  Tonight  on MLB Network. These 24 boys and girls will compete at the National Finals and participate in ... (click for more)