GOP congressmen want more money to upgrade Chickamauga Lock

GOP congressmen want more money to upgrade Chickamauga Lock

March 23rd, 2012 by Dave Flessner in Local - Breaking News

Chickamauga Lock and Dam / Chickamauga Lake looking northeast.

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U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., criticized President Obama today for not including any maintenance money in next year's budget proposal to shore up the crumbling Chickamauga Lock.

"The president's budget for fiscal 2013 has zero funds for the lock and that is unacceptable," Fleischmann told reporters during a tour of the Tennessee River lock today.

Fleischmann hosted U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., a House transportation subcommittee chairman, for a tour of the Chickamauga Lock and the Apison Pike extension to Collegedale.

Both Shuster and Fleischmann said the funding formula for lock and dam repairs and upgrades needs to be changed to ensure projects like Chickamauga Lock are funded.

Shuster vowed to work on the next waterway funding measure to allocate more money for the Chickamauga Lock and similar locks needing repairs.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been spending from $2 million to $3 million a year on "aggressive maintenance" to preserve the 72-year-old lock, which is suffering from problems with concrete growth.

The Corps began building a new and larger lock at the Chickamauga Dan nearly a decade ago, but funding ran dry from the Inland Waterways Trust Fund due to the recession and cost overruns at other, higher priority projects on the Ohio River.

The Corps has spent nearly $200 million on the new Chickamauga Lock so far, but the total project expense has swollen to $693 million. Work on the new lock is stalled until more money is allocated to the Corps" inland waterways program.