Thursday, Dec 12, 2013
Olmsted Lock and Dam Project Gets $2.9B in Funding
1:45 p.m. Update: Correction made to reflect more than $2.9 billion in funding, not $2.9 million
OLMSTED, IL - A major construction project in southern Illinois is getting a boost in funding. More than $2.9 billion in funding for the Olmsted Lock and Dam project on the Ohio River made it into the deal that ended the government shutdown.
The Olmsted project is one of the largest construction projects in the country, considered essential but way over budget.
U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., helped orchestrate the funding bill and came under criticism from the political action committee The Senate Conservatives Fund for getting the money into the final legislation Wednesday evening.
U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Ca, is chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee -- she told Fox News she put the dam funding in the budget deal because "there is no money" to fund the project.
The Olmsted Locks and Dam project has been under construction since 1993. In a 2009 interview with News 3, McConnell said, "Our goal would be to try to meet the annual challenges- to keep this project as close to on schedule as possible- which in the end will allow it to be finished sooner and cheaper."
The Army Corps of Engineers said the cheapest way to transport goods is on the river system, by far. And those savings alone will trickle down to all the consumers that buy goods and services.
The House previously approved $1.7 billion for the project.
U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-TN, said in a statement, "According to the Army Corps of Engineers, $160 million taxpayer dollars will be wasted because of canceled contracts if this language is not included."
The project initially was authorized in 1988 for a maximum of $775 million. As of the 2011 fiscal year, it had received more than $1.4 billion, according to the Army Corps.
The Associated Press, Bloomberg Business and FOX News contributed to this story
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