New Chickamauga Lock left out of president's budget

New Chickamauga Lock left out of president's budget

February 14th, 2011 in News

Staff photo by Dan Henry/Chattanooga Times Free Press

The White House budget unveiled today does not provide any funds to resume construction on the stalled new Chickamauga Lock in Chattanooga.

President Obama's proposed 2012 budget includes $3 million for maintenance of the existing lock at the Chickamauga Dam, which is crumbling due to problems with concrete growth. But for the second consecutive year, there is not enough matching funds in the Inland Waterways Users Fund to fund inland locks other than the ongoing rehabilitation of the Olmsted Lock and Dam project in Ohio.

"This is a frugal budget," said Jo-Ellen Darcy, assistant secretary of the Army for Civil Works told reporters today.

The Corps' overall budget is about 15 percent below last year's spending level and will not include any construction money for the Kentucky Lock, another TVA-built lock on the Tennessee River near Gilbertsville, Ky.

The stimulus package adopted by Congress in 2008 kept work going on the new Chickamauga and Kentucky locks until last fall. But without a change in the funding formula for inland waterway projects like the Chickamauga Lock, Army Corps officials said today they won't have enough money to get to work on the stalled Chickamauga Lock until at least 2014.

Since work began nearly a decade ago on a new and larger replacement lock at the Chickamauga Dam, the Corps has spent nearly $200 million to reroute Lake Shore Drive, to build a coffer dam for the new lock and to build new gates, walls and infrastructure. But the new lock is projected to cost about $400 million more to complete.

In the White House budget plan, the Office of Management and Budget said "the administration will work with the Congress to reform the laws governing the Inland Waterways Trust Fund, including increasing the revenue paid by commercial navigation" through fuel taxes.