Higher barge fuel tax passes House, could revive stalled repairs on Chickamauga Lock

photo Chickamauga Lock and Dam

Chattanooga's biggest unfinished construction project could be revived within the next couple of years with extra money from a fuel tax increase moving through the lame-duck Congress.

The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday night approved a tax bill that could resurrect work at the stalled Chickamauga lock on the Tennessee River by 2016. The measure was approved by a 404-17 vote in the House and is expected to win Senate approval within the next week.

The industry-backed measure will raise the per-gallon tax on diesel fuel for barges from 20 cents to 29 cents next April, generating nearly $40 million a year more money for inland waterway projects such as the $860 million replacement lock at the Chickamauga Dam.