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Stalled Chickamauga project spurs debate in Congressional race

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (Times Free Press) -

The White House budget plan for fiscal 2015 includes no money to maintain or replace the crumbling Chickamauga Lock, threatening to further delay river transportation in East Tennessee.

The Obama administration is proposing to cut funding for civil works projects done by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers by $1 billion next year. For the second consecutive year, the president's budget released Tuesday does not fund any of the aggressive maintenance previously done to maintain the integrity of the 74-year-old lock at the Chickamauga Dam, which suffers from "concrete growth" that weakens lock gate walls and supports.

Construction of a new and larger replacement lock stalled four years ago when funding ran out in the Inland Waterways Trust Fund, which is equally funded by river barge fuel taxes and the U.S. treasury. Because of cost overruns by the Corps of Engineers' top priority project -- the $3 billion lock and dam project at Olmsted Lock on the Ohio River -- there is no money for lock replacements on the Tennessee River, including stalled projects at the Chickamauga and Kentucky dams.

"I'm afraid it doesn't look good for this year or next," said Cline Jones, executive director of the Tennessee River Valley Association, a trade group for the barge industry that is pushing for a new lock.

Read more from our news partner the Times Free Press.

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