Members of Illinois’ congressional delegation are touting the importance of maintaining locks and dams in helping move agricultural products, but there’s some caution moving forward.
U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Moline, said there are billions of dollars in backlogged maintenance needs in the locks and dams system and if any of them fail, farmers would take a massive hit.
“We need to address it,” Bustos said. “It has been this fix-as-fail mentality, we’ve got to be more proactive than that in a system that was built in the Depression era.”
She plans an information session for her constituents in January to update people on the issue.
U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, said Bustos is right. Locks and dams must be maintained.
“It’s one thing to talk about doing it like the Obama administration did,” Davis said. “It’s another thing to invest the $10 million in making it happen like the Trump administration is doing.”
The Trump administration announced $10 million for the LaGrange Lock in Cass County. The lock last underwent rehabilitation in 1988.
U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Dunlap, said agriculture is the No. 1 industry in his district. He said with Illinois being connected to major rivers and waterways, locks and dams are crucial in getting agriculture products around the world.
“There is not a more efficient or effective way to send grain than on barges,” LaHood said. “But you have to have that infrastructure. You have to have those locks and dams.”
LaHood praised the Trump administration’s $10 million investment in the Lagrange Lock in Cass County.
U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R- Murphysboro, said policy makers must keep a check on any public-private partnerships moving forward.
“So that we make sure we don’t cause our grain prices, the transfer of our grain, to cost so much that we can’t compete in a world market,” Bost said.
Bost cautioned about increased grain transfer prices if the private sector takes too much control.