LaHood discusses $10 million funding for LeGrange Lock

By Blake Schnitker on June 13 at 12:09pm

Two Illinois Congressmen are announcing funding for a major rehabilitation project to a lock and dam in Cass County.

U.S Representative Darin LaHood of Illinois’ 18th District and Taylorville-based Rodney Davis of the 13th District are announcing that the administration is providing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with $10 million dollars to renovate the LeGrange Lock located south of Beardstown.

LaHood joined WLDS’ AM Conversation earlier this week to discuss a number of topics, including the rehabilitation work that’s to be completed on the LeGrange Lock. As for the last time this lock has had any updates, LaHood says it’s been a number of decades.

“The LeGrange Lock on the Illinois River is the southern-most lock on that river system, and it accommodates a heavy amount of barge traffic. My colleague Rodney Davis and I have been working on this for a couple of years now. If you think about it, a huge majority of our agriculture commodity movement on the river goes through this lock. But it has not really been updated or rehabbed in a long, long time, 1988 was the last time and this lock was built in 1939. The wickets that are at the bottom of the lock are from 1939, and so this is long overdue, and we’re happy this last week we could announce $10 million going to update that and fix that,” says LaHood.

LaHood goes into further details regarding the work that will be done to the lock and dam.

“It’s also going to expand (the lock) so it goes from 600 feet to 1,200 feet, which will allow larger barges to go through there. Competition-wise, we compete with the Chinese on our inland waterways, and this will help us to get more of our commodity products all around the world because they go down the Illinois River into the Mississippi, to the Gulf of Mexico, and then they go through the new Panama Canal, and then they can go anywhere around the world. We have to remind ourselves that ag is the number one industry in the state of Illinois, and we’re off to a great crop this year, but we have to update our lock system, and this will do that,” says LaHood.

Davis and LaHood are also announcing that, in addition to the work on the LeGrange Lock, the administration is authorizing $1 million dollars for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to move forward the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program, or NESP. Authorized back in 2007, the NESP program looks to expand seven locks on the Upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers, but was halted by the prior administration.

The LeGrange Lock is located south of Beardstown and is situated in Cass County. To hear more on the lock rehabilitation, as well as other subjects, listen to our full interview with LaHood at WLDS or WEAI.com.