Alexander to introduce bill to speed fixing of Chickamauga Lock - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Sen. Alexander to introduce bill to speed fixing of Chickamauga Lock

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) – Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) announced Wednesday that he and a bipartisan group of Senators will introduce legislation to modernize America's ports, locks, and dams, which includes the Chickamauga Lock.

Alexander said that the legislation, called the American Waterworks Act, would do two things to help ensure construction of Chickamauga Lock, which is a high priority for the Army Corps of Engineers.

First, it would free up funds in the Inland Waterways Trust Fund to be used on priorities such as Chickamauga Lock by ending the requirement that trust fund revenues go to pay for Olmsted Lock on the Ohio River, a project that has been soaking up almost 90 percent of fund revenues.

Second, Alexander said, it would nearly double the amount of money in the trust fund by doing exactly what the lock's commercial users have requested—increasing the user fees they pay.

Construction on Chickamauga Lock would create a wider and longer lock able to handle multiple jumbo barges at a time, increasing the volume of cargo that can come through the lock while decreasing the time it would take to get it through.

Earlier this year, in a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Energy and Water, Alexander said that completing Chickamauga Lock would take, "100,000 heavy trucks off I-75 while allowing 6.7 million tons of cargo to move through the lock."

At the lock today, Alexander said that completing the lock, "was without a doubt one of the best things we could do to improve road safety while at the same time increasing the amount of goods that come through Tennessee waterways."

Alexander told the gathering, "We have two trust funds to deal with waterway infrastructure like the Chickamauga Lock, and neither of them works. The Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund collects a lot of money, but doesn't spend it well. The Inland Waterways Trust Fund doesn't collect much money, but spends it well. This bill would fix the way our ports and waterways are funded so that we can meet the challenges they face, and passing this bill would mean Chickamauga Lock gets the funding it will need to be completed."

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