Waterways Council Concerned with Lock and Dam Cost Overruns
Problems on Ohio River are hamstringing ag exports because projects on Mississippi continue to be delayed.
Published: Mar 12, 2012
Cost overruns at a lock and dam project on the Ohio River have drawn the concern of the Waterways Council Incorporated. WCI Vice President Paul Rhode says the Corps of Engineers last month published a notice of the cost overruns at the Olmstead lock and dam. Rohde says the carriers, shippers and producers will ultimately bear half the cost through the inland waterways trust fund.
"We are reaching out to Congress to look at this issue and see what, if anything, could be done," Rhode said. "So that we don't have projects that are authorized at $775 million now with a price tag of nearly $3 billion and another 10 years added on to the completion date."
Rhode says the lock is finished but construction of the dam is using a process called in the wet, which he says is different from a typical coffer dam.
"Our issue is that this in the wet technology doesn't seem to be working and all we've had over the years is additional cost increase and delays in finishing the completion of this project," Rhode said. "The reason that is important is with very limited dollars both from appropriations and in the trust fund itself we are now placing 94% of the construction dollars the Corps is doing into this one project, which should have been finished a long time ago."
Rohde says that means projects like work on the seven locks on the upper Mississippi that were authorized in 2007 will continue to languish.
"When you consider almost 70% of America's agricultural exports come down that river it is crucial that we position ourselves for the future like the Panama Canal," Rhode said. "Let alone the that we're missing out today just because of a constrained river system with a 600-foot, undersized chamber length, and not to mention the fact that these things were built during the Work Progress administration."
Rhode says WCI does not think continuing with the Olmstead project offers the best return on dollars spent.
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