WJ Editorial

Brandon Road Gets Dedicated Funding

Communities around the country are publicizing and celebrating their infrastructure funding streams from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. 

Conservation groups, Great Lakes states and Asian carp opponents are rejoicing, too, since the Corps of Engineers has announced that it will dedicate $226 million to the Brandon Road Interbasin Project, also known as the Brandon Road Lock and Dam Project, on the Des Plaines River near Joliet, Ill. The Corps had previously dedicated a small amount to cover pre-construction, environmental and design (PED) studies at Brandon Road, but this funding tranche marks a significant start to a project that is estimated to cost $858 million and whose costs could go up. 

The project will use IIJA funding to build an array of technological barriers, including an air-bubble curtain, an electric barrier, a flushing lock and an underwater acoustic fish deterrent, to keep the invasive carp out of Lake Michigan. The project is the most expensive among several options for Brandon Road that were considered by the Corps. In December, the governors of Wisconsin, Ohio, New York, Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Michigan all wrote to the two committees in the House and Senate finalizing the infrastructure bill, emphasizing the project as a national priority. It has also gotten bipartisan support from members of Congress in those states. 

Waterways advocates had wondered whether funding for the carp barriers would be diverted from other necessary projects like lock and dam modernization elsewhere in the system. The good news is that all this funding will come out of a separate environmental budget line in the Corps’ plan, not from the Inland Waterways Trust Fund. That’s as it should be. 

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