CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – Frustrated Tennessee lawmakers are moving quickly in Washington to get funding restored for the Chickamauga Lock project in Chattanooga.
After earlier gains that would have seen the project through to completion, it now appears that the money may be cut off after the next fiscal year.
News 12’s Ashley Henderson has the story.
The Chickamauga lock is almost 80 years old.
The U.S. Army corps of engineers has been supervising the building of a new, much bigger lock for years, but it will be several more years to complete under the best conditions.
The problem has been keeping the funding from year to year, according to Rep. Chuck Fleischmann.
“Whether it was the Obama administration or the Trump administration, these funds, this was not in their budget.”
“So there’s no concern about the funding, we will basically do what congress always does, what we did this year, in fiscal ’19, in the President’s budget it was zero, we go one hundred and seventeen million. We were supposed to get ninety, but actually got a hundred and seventeen million.”
The other strong legislative voice urging completion of that lock, is Senator Lamar Alexander, who made the latest appeal at a meeting of the Senate subcommittee on Energy and Water Development on Wednesday.
“Chickamauga Lock, most people in east Tennessee know, is very important to us, because lots of traffic on the lock, cargo, barges, jobs, all depend upon the lock. It affects not just the Chattanooga area, but all of east Tennessee. And without the lock, we’d have a hundred and fifty thousand heavy trucks in addition, on I-75.”
Rep. Fleischmann is taking a philosophical approach to the funding problem–he says it’s been an annual fight for years.
“The funding picture is robust. It is an annual battle. It’s an appropriations battle, but Tennessee fortunately has two appropriators, me in the house, and Senator Alexander in the senate, I think we’ll be fine.”
But where does the project stand, right now?
Project Manager Adam Walker with the Corps of Engineers updates us.
“To date we have expended, which is paid out to our contractors, about 34% of the project has been completed.”
“So we’re right at $250,000,000 that has been paid out to contractors so the overall project cost, grand total, including all the relocations we’ve done in the past and all the coffer dam construction as well as building the new facility, is $758,000,000.”