Higher fuel tax could help new Chickamauga lock construction - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Higher fuel tax could help new Chickamauga lock construction

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - Serodino Inc. has around 30 barges, all filled with up to 65 truck loads of cargo, lined up on the Tennessee river front. Now that the Chickamauga lock has temporarily shut down, President Peter Serodino said their holding space will only become more congested over the next few weeks.

"We're very fortunate to be stuck below the lock and not above the lock," Peter Serodino said, "But, now we don't have anything to do."
    
Peter Serodino admits his company is taking a financial hit since the Chickamauga lock unexpectedly closed for repair.
    
About 16 of his employees were temporarily laid off, giving Serodino a glimpse of what his company would look like if the lock shut down for good.

"We've been told for four or five years the life span of the existing lock is unpredictable," Serodino said, "It's going to work until one day it doesn't work and that's the call we got earlier this week, is it's not working."
    
Former congressman Zach Wamp said there's one thing that has to be done to better the chances of building a new lock.

"In order to get enough money for the Chickamauga lock you have to increase the fuel tax for the barge owners," Wamp said, "And they want this done, they voted four years ago to ask the congress to allow them to raise their own fees."
   
Funding for the new lock is shared between the Inland Waterways Trust Fund and money appropriated by congress.

Serodino said barge companies would rather see a higher price for fuel than another lock closure.

"We want to pay more," he said, "As an industry whole are advocating that this tax, not tax..user fee be increased eight or nine cents to as much as 30 cents a gallon."
    
Meanwhile, Wamp is afraid the Chickamauga lock will be forced to shut down permanently before the new lock is finished.

"So if this lock closed," Wamp said, "I'm told by the core of engineers that it will be the highest volume lock in the history of the country to be closed by force."

Repairs to the damaged Chickamauga lock began Thursday and right now engineers are estimating three weeks worth of work before the lock reopens.
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