Lock and dam funding announcement secures decades of work by IL Corn Growers
The Illinois Corn Growers Association is seeing decades of advocacy efforts pay off this week after the US Army Corps of Engineers announced the addition of Lock and Dam 25 on the Mississippi River to their working plan with full funding of $732 million.
ICGA Managing Director Jim Tarmann tells Brownfield waterway infrastructure improvements on the upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers have been a high priority of theirs for years.
“I don’t know that I have fully wrapped my head around today’s announcement. Honestly, it has been more than two decades that we have been working and advocating for improvements to our inland waterway transportation system. Especially in the Upper Mississippi River Basin, it is one of the competitive advantages Illinois has over other states.”
He says lock 25 near Winfield on the Missouri side of the Mississippi River is the highest priority project of seven total locks on the upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers in the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program introduced back in 2007. He hopes the completion of this project will help funding for the other six locks gain momentum.
“We believe there will be somewhat of a domino effect that once one is finished, they will keep moving until all seven are completed, but we are just excited for the first one to get started.”
He says there have been many other groups and individuals in the state working long and hard on this project alongside IL Corn and he specifically thanks Senator Dick Durbin and Congresswoman Cheri Bustos for their efforts the last few days.
“We got word that we were left out of the work plan on Friday, and I know there were a lot of discussions where those two (Bustos and Durbin) weighing in at the last minute helped push this over the hill.”
Tarmann says new 1,200-foot lock chambers will prevent tows from having to split in two to fit through, and create a two-way river, which increases efficiency and makes the most environmentally friendly commodity transport option more appealing to businesses and farmers.
He says this is a great example of how a collective voice of farmers and stakeholders can make a difference over time.