Bustos pushes for bipartisan bill to modernize locks and dams on Mississippi

Online Staff Report

April 30, U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., US. Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, and U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, pushed for passage of a bipartisan, bicameral bill to modernize and improve the aging locks and dams on the Mississippi River to help fuel economic growth throughout the region.

The three lawmakers received a private briefing and tour from the Army Corps of Engineers at Rock Island’s Lock & Dam No. 15, and held a press conference afterward.

The Mississippi River is absolutely critical to the economic well-being of our region,” Bustos said. “That is why action must be taken to expand and modernize the locks and dams that help transport our goods and products world-wide. By encouraging public-private partnerships, our bipartisan bill will expedite the planning and construction of projects that will make the movement of the high-quality goods of our region — whether they be from Caterpillar, John Deere or the numerous farmers and manufacturers that call Illinois and Iowa home — more swift, efficient and safe.”

Braley added: “These locks and dams ensure that agricultural exports and other goods can be efficiently transported down the river. But if the Mississippi River is going to remain the economic engine we all rely on, serious upgrades are needed. For years, Congress has neglected these needs, leaving the Army Corps of Engineers overwhelmed and years behind schedule on updates. Creating public-private partnerships between the Army Corps of Engineers and private companies will help Mississippi River locks and dams get the critical upgrades they need, creating jobs and encouraging economic growth. I’m proud to follow Rep. Bustos’ leadership to find a creative solution to fund lock and dam modernization, speeding up badly-needed improvements and benefiting the entire Mississippi River corridor.”

Loebsack said: “The Mississippi River is a vital part of Iowa’s and the region’s economy. It is one of the keys to the area remaining globally competitive by getting Iowa products, made and grown by Iowans to the world. To keep the river open and commerce moving, we must make the strategic investments necessary to modernize the locks and dams that help control the flow of the river. A ‘fix as they fail’ approach won’t cut it. I remain committed to working across the river and across the aisle to ensure our river infrastructure is modernized and to jumpstart the job creation and economic boost modernizing the river infrastructure will provide. We need to invest in our infrastructure and explore all options to do that, including the expansion of public-private partnerships.”

The Water Infrastructure Now Public-Private Partnership Act, which Bustos introduced last month along with U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., and U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., would improve the nation’s water infrastructure — including the aging locks and dams along the Mississippi and Illinois rivers — by encouraging public-private partnerships that would speed up projects and save money for taxpayers.

For more about the bill, including video of Bustos talking about the bill on the House Floor, visit http://bustos.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/durbin-kirk-bustos-davis-bill-would-promote-public-private-partnerships.

Posted May 1, 2013

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