Skip to Content

Senators Work to Improve Lock and Dam Infrastructure Along Mississippi River

Recent shutdown of traffic on the Upper Mississippi near Granite City is latest example of the impact that our deteriorating infrastructure has on economy

Wednesday, Sep 26, 2012

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) sent a letter to the Environment and Public Works Committee which just began work on a new Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) bill, to include funding and legislative language that would establish a long-term strategy to expedite construction and operation of critical lock and dam projects along the Mississippi River.  

“The system of locks and dams along the Upper Mississippi are in desperate need of modernization.  The current system was built 70 years ago and updates are needed to fit the requirements of modern barge technology.    Many of the older locks are only 600 feet in length, while most current barge tows using the waterway are twice as long.  That means these goods take twice as long to get down river and into the marketplace,” wrote the Senators.  “As the Environment and Public Works Committee considers a new Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) bill, we encourage you to work with all stakeholders to find a way to expedite the construction and operation of these critical projects.”

Recently, during one of the most important periods of the year for Midwestern agriculture, traffic on the Upper Mississippi River was shut down due to the failure of a protecting wall at Locks 27 at Chain of Rocks Canal near Granite City, Illinois.  According to the Senators, shut downs like this could impact the not just current shipments on the river, but the overall reliability and timeliness of using the inland waterways system, which is of significant national interest.


Text of the letter is below:


September 21, 2012


The Honorable Barbara Boxer                                                The Honorable James M. Inhofe

Chairman                                                                                 Ranking Member

EPW Committee                                                                     EPW Committee

456 Dirksen Senate Office Building                                      410 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Washington, DC  20510                                                         Washington, DC  20510


Dear Chairwoman Boxer and Ranking Member Inhofe:


America’s inland waterways system is vital to our economy and serves as a major component of the nation’s intermodal transportation network.  Unfortunately, a troubling lack of upkeep within this system has crippled our ability to move goods in a safe and efficient manner.  Of particular concern is our deteriorating lock and dam infrastructure along the Mississippi River, which cannot meet the demands of a 21st century economy.

230 South Dearborn
Suite 3900
Chicago, IL 60604
Phone: 312-886-3506
Fax: 312-886-2117
Map: Get Directions

607 East Adams
Suite 1520
Springfield, IL 62701
Phone: 217-492-5089
Fax: 217-492-5099
Map: Get Directions

Washington, DC
524 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington DC, 20510
Phone: 202-224-2854
Fax: 202-228-4611
Map: Get Directions