Alexander’s praised for ‘sticking his neck out’ on Kentucky’s Lock and Dam project

Tennessee River users are defending U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander as critics attack his move to authorize money to complete a major Ohio River dam project, saying it plays into a wider effort to restart stalled work on the Chickamauga Dam lock in Chattanooga.

Further from the Chattanooga TFP:

“We appreciate Sen. Alexander sticking his neck out [and] taking the heat,” said Cline Jones, executive director of the Tennessee River Valley Association, which includes barge and tow boat operators among its members. “It’s not just for us in our region but the nation.”

Jones said Tuesday cost overruns on the Holmstead Locks and Dam Dam replacement project is “sucking up all the money.

” As a result, he added, “there’s no money for those other projects.”

“What they did in the continuing resolution that’s got everybody so up in arm is authorize money to complete that thing,” Jones said.

Alexander, R-Tenn., has come under fire from Tea Party groups and his 2014 GOP primary challenger, state Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lascassas, for including a provision in last week’s funding resolution that ended a two-week partial federal government shutdown.

Jones said the big issue now is funding changes envisioned in a major water projects bill, previously passed by the Senate, which is scheduled to be on the House floor today.

The Senate’s Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) calls for 100 percent of the Olmsted project to be funded by the federal government instead of 50 percent.

Jones said that will move the No. 2 dam project on the Corps of Engineers’ list — the Lower Monongahela lock and dam replacement project in Pennsylvania — to the top and receive more funding. That should ultimately benefit the No. 3 project, Kentucky Dam on the Tennessee River, he said.

And No. 4 on the Army Corps list is the lock replacement for the Chickamauga Dam in Chattanooga.