WASHINGTON, DC, US — The US Army Corps of Engineers will spend $3.94 billion for commercial navigation improvements at coastal ports and on inland waterways during fiscal year 2022, including a Mississippi River project awaiting funding for more than 14 years.
The plan released Jan. 19 details how the Army Corps will allocate a total of $22.81 billion in supplemental funding provided in two recently enacted laws — the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the 2022 Disaster Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act.
As part of the plan, the Army Corps announced it would spend $732 million to finish design and construction of Lock and Dam 25, located on the Upper Mississippi River in Winfield, Missouri, US. This is the first time this project has received construction funding since it was authorized in 2007.
“The existing locks on the Upper Mississippi River-Illinois Waterway were built in the 1930s with 600-foot chambers to accommodate the standard vessels used for commerce during that time,” said Mike Seyfert, president and chief executive officer, National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA), which supported the bipartisan funding plan as crucial for the US economy and agriculture. “However, today’s towboats can push a 1,200-foot-long tow of 15 barges, which must ‘double-lock’ through, resulting in significant, costly delays. Modernizing these outdated locks will help discipline rail rates, reduce wear and tear on US roads and bridges, and make American agriculture more competitive.”
In 2020, the United States exported 29% of its grains and oilseeds, with more than half of those exports transported on the Mississippi River system. Total US agricultural exports in 2020 checked in at $145.7 billion, the second highest total on record, with soybeans ($25.7 billion) and corn ($9.2 billion) the top two commodities, according to US Department of Agriculture data.