The Army Corps of Engineers released its much-anticipated spending plan Wednesday for nearly $23 billion in supplemental funding, including about $4 billion for commercial navigation improvements at ports and on inland waterways, including the Mississippi River. 

The spending plan includes details on how the Corps will allocate money under two recent supplemental appropriations — the infrastructure bill and the disaster relief bill.

The Corps said it would spend $732 million to finish design and construction of Lock and Dam 25, located at Winfield, Missouri, the first of several locks and dams on the Mississippi River slated for reconstruction. The Mississippi River projects are a long-time priority for Midwest farmers because of the river's importance to moving soybeans and corn to overseas markets. 

The Corps plans to build a new 1,200-foot lock chamber adjacent to the existing 600-foot chamber. The new chamber will allow a fifteen barge tow transporting more than 800,000 bushels of corn or soybeans to transit the lock in a single pass;  such a barge tow must be disassembled to transit the 600-foot lock chamber, said Mike Steenhoek, executive director of the Soy Transportation Coalition. Lock and Dam 25 is the southernmost lock and dam on the river. 

Upriver, $97 million will go to design completion and the start of construction on a fish passage at Lock and Dam 22 near Saverton, Missouri.

“Today’s announcement is a huge win for our economy, jobs, American farmers, trade and the environment,” said Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill. “This years-long effort to modernize the locks and dams of the Mississippi will help our agricultural producers bring tons of goods to market faster, increase trade by speeding up the transport of American products, spur job creation, alleviate supply chain stress and help reduce transportation emissions."

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, told reporters that he hears frequently from constituents about the need to rebuild the locks and dams. 

"If you get within 75 or 100 miles of the Mississippi River with my county meetings, I always get a question about when are you guys going to fix the locks and dams," he said. 

Elsewhere, some $479 million will go to complete construction of a new lock along St. Mary’s River at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.

The White House touted the spending, noting that $858 million would go “to support the replacement of locks that keep water levels high enough for large cargo ships to pass through the upper Ohio River, west of Pittsburgh.”

Of the approximately $17 billion in infrastructure funding, the Corps said it would spend more than $5 billion to “help improve community resilience in the face of global climate change.”

Another $1 billion will go to fund the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration program, “a historic funding level that will enable significant progress in restoring Florida’s nationally significant Everglades ecosystem,” the Corps said. 

In addition, “In the coming year, the Army will engage with environmental justice communities in the development of a strategy to allocate $130 million in two pilot programs authorized in the Water Resources Development Act of 2020 that target economically disadvantaged community’s needs.”

Of the $5.7 billion in disaster relief funds, the Corps said it would spend $3 billion “for construction of qualifying flood and storm damage reduction, including shore protection, projects, with $1.5 billion to be put toward projects in the four states where major disasters were declared in FY 2021 due to Hurricane Ida.”

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