Congresswoman Nikki Budzinski joined Representatives Darin LaHood, Eric Sorensen, Sam Graves, and Blaine Luetkemeyer in commending the inclusion of $75 million in the Fiscal Year 2024 House Energy and Water Appropriations bill. This substantial funding will modernize and upgrade locks and dams along the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers, a vital transportation route for family farmers in Central and Southern Illinois.
Currently, these locks and dams are nearly a century old, posing significant challenges for farmers trying to transport their commodities to the global market. Congresswoman Budzinski emphasized the importance of investing in inland waterway infrastructure to expedite the transportation of corn and soybeans and ensure the longevity of these crucial routes.
The proposed upgrade plan entails the construction of new 1,200-foot locks, which will not only alleviate traffic delays but also enhance shipping capacity. This development is set to bolster safety, efficiency, and expedite the delivery of agricultural goods to the global market.
The funding, if approved by the full House and Senate, will support the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program (NESP), an ambitious long-term initiative that aims to facilitate navigation improvements and ecosystem restoration for the Upper Mississippi River System.
The $75 million allocation was made possible through the Community Project Funding process, which allows congressional representatives to designate funding for critical initiatives during the appropriations process. This funding has been incorporated into the House Appropriations Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies bill, one of the twelve vital appropriations bills presented annually by Congress.
To proceed, the funding will undergo approval from the full Appropriations Committee before advancing to the House floor for a final vote.