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McConnell announces $465 million in funding to complete Kentucky Lock and Dam Project

Lee Roberts

U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell announced Wednesday that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will provide nearly a half billion dollars to fully complete the construction of the Kentucky Lock and Dam Project as part of its Fiscal Year 2022 Work Plan.

The $465,492,000 contribution by the USACE should help the project meet its estimated completion in 2029.

USACE data says the incomplete Kentucky Lock creates “among the longest shipping delays in the country,” holding up the more than $5 billion worth of commodities that goes through it every year. This new lock addition should remedy those delays well into the future once it’s completed.

Lyon County Judge-Executive Wade White thanked McConnell for his efforts Wednesday. He thinks the project will provide a “major economic boost to (Kentucky) and surrounding counties.”

Marshall County Judge-Executive Kevin Neal also expressed his gratitude.

“This is great news to see the KY Lock addition project budgeted for completion. It’s job security for the men and women who currently work the project,” Neal said. “Once completed, the river industries and local communities will benefit from faster waterway transportation giving them competitive commerce opportunities.”

The funding for this project was appropriated through the Congress’ bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which McConnell supported when it passed last year. The legislation represents the largest federal infrastructure investment in several years, setting aside dollars for roads, bridges, airports, railroads, broadband and other uses.

“For decades, I have used my leadership roles in the United States Senate to advocate for improvements to Kentucky’s infrastructure, with a special focus on the long-awaited Kentucky Lock and Dam Project,” McConnell said in a release. “Once finished, the new Kentucky Lock and Dam will allow the Commonwealth to take full advantage of our location at the heart of America’s inland waterways system and provide numerous advantages to Kentucky businesses and families.”

The Kentucky senator has delivered over $1 billion to the project since Congress authorized it in 1996.

Waterways Council chairman Matt Ricketts, of Paducah, is excited about what this project’s completion could bring.

“We are gratified that the modernization of Kentucky Lock is funded to completion at over $465 million,” he said. “With more than 110,000 jobs supported by Kentucky’s ports, inland waterways, and related industries, this project will increase efficiency for the transport of key commodities the Commonwealth and the nation depend upon and benefit the multitude of recreational users as well.”

A native of western Kentucky, Operle earned his bachelor's degree in integrated strategic communications from the University of Kentucky in 2014. Operle spent five years working for Paxton Media/The Paducah Sun as a reporter and editor. In addition to his work in the news industry, Operle is a passionate movie lover and concertgoer.
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