Congressman Aaron Schock of Peoria hopes the U.S. Senate will act soon to approve legislation that will benefit the Peoria Lock and Dam.
The House has okayed the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA). The act basically reduces the amount of time it will take for design, engineering and environmental studies that would be needed once money is allocated to repair the locks.
Schock says that time will be cut from about 15 years to 3 years.
"This is going to mean jobs, it's going to mean actual construction eventually here in Central Illinois. It's a big win."
The Peoria Republican Congressman says repairing the lock is important to more than just the people working on barges.
"I often tell my colleagues in Chicago the lion's share of the jet fuel used in their planes out of O'Hare comes up from a barge through the river system," Schock says. "So, a failure on this lock will affect everyone."
The Act, which now goes to the Senate, also sets hard deadlines for the time and cost of studies and deauthorizes $12-billion worth of old, inactive projects on the table since before 2007.
Next up...allocating the money that would be needed to fix up the lock.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Col. Mark Deschenes says the Peoria Lock and Dam was built in the 1930's with a 50-year life expectancy. The lock is now 80 years old and in dire need of repair.
"Everything from valves to concrete work to replacing the gates," explains Deschenes. "There's not really one thing you can point to, other than the fact maybe you can point to everything."
Schock expects the Senate to vote on WRRDA within the next couple of weeks.