ICYMI: "Century-old locks and dams require urgent upgrades" by Rep. Rodney Davis
U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), in an op-ed to the Washington Times, expressed the need to ensure adequate funding for America's inland waterways, which the agriculture industry relies on for exports, in a bipartisan infrastructure package.
The following is an excerpt from the March 21 Washington Times opinion piece.
"When we talk about fixing the crumbling infrastructure in our country, many think about our roads and bridges, which absolutely need our attention and investment. But one of the lesser-known issues with our nation’s infrastructure involves our vast network of rivers and waterways used to transport commodities across the country.
Locks and dams on our inland waterways play an essential role in moving products produced in my district. The 13th Congressional District of Illinois is settled in the west, central part of the state, nestled up against where the Illinois River flows into the mighty Mississippi River.
In the mostly rural area, this location is key to the biggest economic driver of our region — agriculture. The same can be said of many congressional districts across the country.
The United States leads the world in agricultural exports. In 2015, our ag exports totaled $133 billion, with the leading products being grains, feeds and soybeans. Eighty-one percent of those exports are waterborne and 60 percent move by barge along our inland waterways. Locks and dams are used by barges to carry commodities up and down rivers so they can be delivered to market or sent overseas. Unfortunately, many of these locks, including La Grange in Versailles and the Peoria Lock and Dam in Illinois, are almost 100 years old and are literally crumbling — leading to significant delays and increased maintenance costs.
Just one lock closure shuts down the entire system and these closures have increased 700 percent over the last decade. All consumers rely on this system and these challenges hinder the nation’s competitiveness and reduce market opportunities."
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