Two Mississippi River locks and dams, south of the Quad Cities, will get major attention thanks to new federal funding.

U.S. Representatives Cheri Bustos (D-IL-17) and Ashley Hinson (R-IA-01), along with U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Roy Blunt (R-MO), and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) announced Wednesday that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has allocated $829.1 million in funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) for the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program (NESP) on the Upper Mississippi River System (UMRS).

Specifically, the funding will be used to complete modernization of Lock & Dam 25 (near Winfield, Mo., four hours south of Rock Island), including the construction of a new 1,200-foot lock, as well as an environmental restoration project at Lock & Dam 22 (near Saverton, Mo.), and other small-scale ecosystem and navigation projects in the region.

Today’s announcement comes one month after the lawmakers sent a bipartisan letter to the Army Corps of Engineers to prioritize the funding for construction of NESP on the river with $2.5 billion for inland waterways provided in the IIJA.

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U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Moline).

“Today’s announcement is a huge win for our economy, jobs, American farmers, trade and the environment,” Congresswoman Bustos said in Wednesday’s release. “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. With this funding, we’re bringing taxpayer dollars home and revolutionizing how efficiently we utilize our waterways.”

While this will repair and update Lock & Dam 25 on the Mississippi, it will benefit all locks and dams north of it — including Lock & Dam 15 in the QC, she said later. “The failure of any lock and dam along the Mississippi would have significant consequences for those upstream, as it would fully prevent the movement of goods through that point, shutting down commerce. This project will also be led and operated by the Army Corps of Engineers team in Rock Island, which will create jobs in the QC region.

“This is a huge win for local farmers and producers and the largest investment in the lock and dam system on the Mississippi since its construction in the 1930s,” Bustos added Wednesday.

“The lock and dam system along the Upper Mississippi River is critical to Iowa’s agriculture economy and our country’s entire supply chain — this landmark investment will be game-changing for Iowans and communities along the Mississippi River like Dubuque,” Congresswoman Hinson said.

Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

“Over 60 percent of our nation’s grain exports travel through this lock and dam system, and it is a massive economic engine for the entire state. That’s why I helped lead a bipartisan group of my colleagues in urging the Administration to prioritize funding for these essential upgrades. I’ll always fight to ensure Iowans’ taxpayer dollars are reinvested at home in Iowa.”

“For years, I’ve advocated for the modernization of Illinois’ locks and dams, which are integral to our state’s economy and in desperate need of repair,” Sen. Durbin said.

“Today’s announcement is the beginning of a new era for waterway infrastructure and environmental restoration in Illinois. I’m encouraged that President Biden shares my urgency to improve our waterways by providing more than $800 million in federal funding for the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program,” he said.

“This funding will restore our environment, modernize our locks, help Illinois agriculture better compete around the globe, and create thousands of jobs. I’m looking forward to this federal investment’s positive economic impact on Illinois and communities up and down the Mississippi River for years to come.”

Protecting and strengthening our inland waterways, especially the Mississippi River, is critical to growing our local economies and protecting the health and safety of our communities,” Sen. Duckworth said. “I’m so pleased to see the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program that I’ve worked to support getting the resources it needs through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal, because it will help protect our environment, modernize our water infrastructure and provide good-paying, local jobs for the region.

“Iowa’s agriculture, manufacturing and shipping industries rely on a functioning and efficient lock and dam system along the Mississippi River to move goods,” Sen. Grassley said. “It’s an issue I often hear about during my 99 county meetings and regularly raise with the Army Corps of Engineers, so I’m pleased to report that they’ll be investing more than $829 million for updates to these locks and dams. When I voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill, I was voting for exactly this type of federal support for critical infrastructure that Iowans depend on.”

Originally authorized in the Water Resources Development Act of 2007, NESP will modernize and expand seven outdated locks at the most congested lock locations along the Upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers as well as fund nearly $2 billion in ecosystem restoration. 

The Mississippi River Lock & Dam 15 (including the Government Bridge) at Rock Island.

The UMRS transports more than 60 percent of America’s corn and soybeans, is home to 25 percent of North America’s fish species, and is a globally important flyway for 40 percent of North America’s migratory waterfowl and shorebirds.

Enhancing the reliability and capacity of the seven highest-use and most delayed locks on the UMRS through NESP ensures that the most environmentally-conscious and safe method of transporting bulk commodities will continue for the next generation.