TRVA Published Letter to Tennessean Editor

Fund needed Tennessee River projects

On the Tennessee River, the Chickamauga Lock Replacement and the Kentucky Lock Addition are U.S. Army Corps of Engineers construction projects of critical importance to the state of Tennessee, to the Tennessee and Cumberland Valleys, and to our nation.

These projects have been identified among our nation’s four highest priorities of the Inland Waterways Trust Fund, including the Olmsted Lock and Dam project on the Ohio River in Illinois, and the Lower Monongahela Locks and Dams project on the Monongahela River in Pennsylvania.  Regrettably, the Obama administration has recommended funding for only the Olmsted project in the Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Proposal.

Chickamauga and Kentucky Dams navigation locks perform as integral components of our nation’s 12,000-mile interconnected inland waterways transportation infrastructure. They are tremendous economic drivers that provide access to over 200 Tennessee and Cumberland River ports and terminals.

Funded by a 29 cents per gallon fuel tax paid by the commercial towing industry, receipts of the IWTF are expected to total $116 million for funding of infrastructure projects in FY2017. With the established current contribution of federal matching appropriations, the IWTF could total $387 million, an amount sufficient to fully fund construction capabilities of the four highest priority projects in FY2017, including the Chickamauga and Kentucky Lock projects.

We should encourage members of our Congressional delegation to support FY2017 Energy and Water Appropriations to fund construction of our nation’s consensus highest priority infrastructure projects, including the Chickamauga Lock Replacement and the Kentucky Lock Addition projects on the Tennessee River.

Cline Jones, executive director of the Tennessee River Valley Association and the Tennessee-Cumberland Waterways Council.