Corps Work Plan: ‘A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood’
“It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood!” That was how Marty Hettel, vice president of governmental affairs at American Commercial Barge Line and a longtime veteran of the Inland Waterways Users Board and many other inland waterway committees and roles, greeted the January 19 release of the Corps of Engineers’ work plan for the $22.8 billion total in supplemental funding it received in two recently enacted appropriations bills: the recently signed bipartisan Infrastructure Jobs and Investment Act and the 2022 Disaster Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (See also Washington Waves in this issue).
After decades of under-funding of inland waterway projects, the bills go some way toward restoring funding levels to levels that will speed up major projects and save money in the long run by more efficient investment. Ports, river cities and industries that depend on water transport all welcomed the funding.
“The spend plan supports the administration, hitting the ground running by focusing on current Fiscal Year 2022 spending,” the Corps said in a press release. Future announcements will provide spend plans for subsequent years.
“Each spend plan will be in continued support of administration goals of expanded access to America’s ports through dredging, as well as building resilience in the face of global climate change, while benefitting economically disadvantaged communities and regions and advancing environmental justice.”
“The Army will work with community partners to leverage these historic Civil Works funds for investments that strengthen national supply chains through our commercial navigation mission, help communities impacted by climate change to increase their resiliency, advance environmental justice and invest in communities that have too often been left behind,” said Michael Connor, assistant secretary of the Army for civil works.
Waterways Council Inc. (WCI) lauded the work plan, which will fund the following inland navigation construction projects at a combined $2.22 billion:
• Kentucky Lock (Tennessee River): $465.49 million (funded to completion);
• Montgomery Lock (Ohio River): $857.71 million (funded to completion);
• Lock and Dam 25 (Upper Mississippi River) (Navigation & Ecosystem; Sustainability Program (NESP): $732 million (funded to completion);
• Three Rivers (Arkansas River): $109.15 million (spend plan summary lists this as funded to completion, but the project is authorized for $184.39 million);
• T.J. O’Brien Lock and Dam (Illinois Waterway), (major rehabilitation): $52.52 million (funded to completion);
• Additionally, as part of NESP’s ecosystem restoration component, a fish passage at Lock 22 is funded at $97.1 million to complete the design and to initiate construction.
WCI President and CEO Tracy Zea said, “Today’s release of inland waterways infrastructure funds will not only advance the inland waterways construction portfolio but also create thousands of skilled jobs for America’s building trades, make American farmers more competitive and promote energy security. WCI thanks its members and supporters on Capitol Hill who helped to push this funding over the goal line.”
Between them, the various funding bills will fund enough dredging to keep dredging companies humming at top speed for many years to come.
Of the $5.711 billion supplemental funds that Public Law 117-43 provides for the Army Civil Works Program, $100 million is designated for studies of proposed projects in the four states where major disasters were declared in FY 2021 due to Hurricane Ida: Louisiana, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. Leveraging these funds, 11 feasibility studies, plus the preconstruction engineering and design for six projects, will be funded to completion within the Investigations account in FY 2022.
This law also provides $3 billion for construction of qualifying flood and storm damage reduction projects, including shore protection projects, with $1.5 billion to be put toward projects in the four states where major disasters were declared in FY 2021 due to Hurricane Ida. The Corps will use this funding, in part, to construct a total of 11 projects in FY 2022, including five in states where major disasters were declared due to Hurricane Ida, and six in other states and territories.
Louisiana will benefit from several of the recently passed funding bills.
Public Law 117-43 provides $868 million of Mississippi River and Tributaries funding to construct, rehabilitate and repair damages to projects, including $500 million to construct flood and storm damage reduction projects in the state. This funding will be used to complete two projects, continue construction of the Lower Mississippi River Main Stem Project, including a significant investment in levee safety, and to complete one of the features of that project in FY2022.
The supplemental disaster relief bill includes funding for these Louisiana coastal and other flood protection projects:
• $783 million for New Orleans to Venice Hurricane Protection Project
• $453 million for West Shore Lake Pontchartrain
• $163 million for Atchafalaya Basin
• $128 million for Comite River Diversion
• $94.3 million for Southeast Louisiana
• $8 million for Upper Barataria Basin
• $3.8 million for Grand Isle and Vicinity
• $3.5 million for Bayou Segnette Waterway
• $3 million for Tangipahoa Parish
The IIJA includes more than $643 million in funding for 21 Louisiana coastal and water management projects, including:
• $378.5 million for Morganza to the Gulf
• $125 million for Southwest Coastal
• $52.9 million for Atchafalaya Basin
• $23.2 million for the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway
Ohio River Funding
The Port of Pittsburgh Commission welcomed the “unprecedented” $857.71 million that has been allocated to fully fund the Montgomery Locks, located along the Ohio River, in Monaca, Pa. These funds will be used for new-start construction.
Originally built in 1936, Montgomery Locks & Dam averages about 300 commercial lockages every month, plus another 150 lockages of pleasure craft during the busy summer months.
“This funding announcement is a big win for southwestern Pennsylvania,” said Mary Ann Bucci, executive director of the Port of Pittsburgh Commission. “The Port of Pittsburgh is a driver of jobs and economic prosperity in the region, and by completing the much-needed construction on the Montgomery Locks and Dam, we will be able to safely bring goods in and out of Pittsburgh.”