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.


Couple Ganged After Arranging To Sell PlayStations Via Letgo App

Two men and a woman have been charged in an incident in which a couple said they were robbed, ganged and threatened with a gun after meeting to sell PS3 and PS4 PlayStations for $200. The couple said the deal was set up through the app Letgo that is used for selling items to individuals. They said it was arranged that they meet with the potential buyer, Charley Daniel, on ... (click for more)

Ooltewah Woman Charged With Stealing Items From Cars, Firing Shots At Homeowner Who Confronted Her

A 27-year-old Ooltewah woman has been charged with stealing items from cars on Maplewood Drive, then firing two shots at a homeowner who confronted her. Morgan Lyndsey Shoemaker, of 5204 Village Garden Dr., Ooltewah, is charged with attempted first-degree murder, reckless endangerment, four counts of burglary, two counts of theft of property and possession of a firearm during ... (click for more)

A Light Rain Began To Fall - And Response

Around noon Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, Donald J. Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the most powerful nation on Earth after a long and sometimes bitter campaign where 17 GOP candidates of his own party and two of the opposing party competed for the honor.   Thousands rejoiced in the Washington D.C. streets while policemen who had come along with national guardsmen pushed ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: A Lady Remembers Rex

Kevin Roden sits on the City Council in Denton, Texas (think the Dallas-Fort Worth airport area in the northeastern part of the state) and he is gearing up to run for a third term this spring. He’s already got his website up and, while the election isn’t until April, he writes on his blog every now and then. Last month he let his wife take a turn at it, which brings us to yesterday’s ... (click for more)

Bradley Girls, Cleveland Boys Post Big 5-3A Wins

CLEVELAND, Tenn. – At this juncture in the District 5-3A basketball season, the No. 1 question around District 5-3A is can anyone slow down the Bradley Central girls and Cleveland boys? About 3,000 fans that packed Raider Arena on Friday night probably left feeling like the No. 1-ranked Bearettes and No. 3 Blue Raiders are entrenched atop the league standings and are possibly ... (click for more)

Arts & Sciences Shows Improvement In Win Over Silverdale Baptist

When the Arts & Sciences and Silverdale Baptist boys’ basketball teams met for the first time this season, the Patriots fought to pull out a 10-point victory in the District 5-A game. For Friday’s rematch, CSAS wanted to prove that it had improved since that Nov. 29 matchup, and it only took one quarter for the Patriots to do just that. Coach Mark Dragoo’s ... (click for more)