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Representatives Call for Corps to Prioritize Upper Mississippi Projects
Illinois Ag Connection - 10/29/2020

This week, U.S. Rep. Angie Craig joined Reps. Cheri Bustos (D-IL) and Jason Smith (R-MO) and U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) on a bipartisan, bicameral call for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to include construction funding for the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program (NESP) in the Fiscal Year 2021 Work Plan.

In a letter, the lawmakers urged the Corps to take this next step toward lock modernization and ecosystem restoration to strengthen water infrastructure along the Upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. The inland waterway system is critical to the transportation of a number of American products and plays a key role in the agriculture economy.

NESP, which was authorized in Title VIII of the Water Resources Development Act of 2007, would modernize and expand seven outdated locks and restore ecosystems. Including construction funding for NESP would build on the $4.5 million investment in preconstruction engineering and design (PED) for the projects in FY20.

"NESP is a critically important multi-purpose program that allows the Corps to address both navigation and ecosystem restoration in an integrated approach that construct new locks at seven existing sites, thereby opening the river up to two-way traffic," the lawmakers wrote. "Our nation's water infrastructure plays a critical role in maintaining our competitiveness in the global economy by ensuring the safest, least expensive, most environmentally-friendly, and most efficient movement of goods to market, but the current backlog of outstanding water infrastructure projects pending before the Corps is putting that competitiveness at risk."


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