Chuck Fleischmann Leads Fight For Chickamauga Lock

Chuck Fleischmann: A Commitment to Chickamauga Lock by RepChuck

 

Article from Times Free Press - Congressman "optimistic" about funding to complete new Chickamauga Lock - August 3, 2016

U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann said today "the future is very optimistic" for the completion of a new and bigger lock at the Chickamauga Dam in Chattanooga to replace the existing 76-year-old lock that continues to crack and suffer from concrete growth.

During a tour to the bottom of the existing lock chamber that was emptied of more than 10 million gallons of water three weeks ago, Fleischmann praised the Army Corps of Engineers for its repair efforts to keep the old lock open while he and others work to get funding for the new lock being built on the downriver side of the Chickamauga dam.

"This is an antiquated structure that must be replaced," Fleischmann said after reviewing the $1.3 million of maintenance and repair work being wrapped up this week by the Corps. "My commitment is steadfast. I have made this a legislative priority to make sure that the existing lock gets the funding it needs for maintenance and repair and that the new lock is very high on the priority list to make sure that money flows to get it built."

The Corps has brought a crew of 45 maintenance workers and engineers to Chattanooga to dewater and repair the existing lock this summer. The work work began July 11 and will leave the lock between the Nickajack and Chickamauga Reservoirs shut down until next Thursday.

The dewatering of the lock is part of the Corps' maintenance schedule to maintain and protect the locks that allow river barges to move up and down the 652-mile Tennessee River system. The Corps had a similar month-long maintenance outage at the Chickamauga lock four years ago, and has had to briefly suspend operations several times since due to severe weather or equipment problems.

During such work, river traffic is blocked from moving from downstream of Chattanooga to any of the navigable 318 miles above Chattanooga.

Col. Stephen Murphy, the head of the Nashville district for the Corps of Engineers, said the old lock is like "a sick patient" that must be nurtured.

"We have a great crew from across America that is doing yeoman's work to keep this open," he said.
The funds to maintain the existing lock are in a separate fund are robust and they are there. The money for the new lock is in a different fund, which we have restructured to make sure we have funds flowing for that work."

The new lock is getting nearly $30 million of funds in the current fiscal year, up from a mere $3 million last year, to help pay for the removal of 98,000 cubic yards of rock from the riverbed below the Chickamauga Dam where the new 110-foot by 600-foot lock will be built. The Corps has spent more than $185 million so far on the new lock, but it is projected to cost more than $500 million more to be completed in the next seven years — and then only if adequate funds are provided each year.

Murphy said the new lock could be finished by 2023 "with sufficient funding."

Fleischmann said more money will be needed as the project moves forward, but he said more funds should be available as the top priority locks on the Ohio River at the Olmsted Lock, on the Mongahela River near Pittsburg and at the Kentucky Lock downstream on the Tennessee River are completed in the next few years. Fleischmann also was among those who helped support a higher barge fuel tax to provide more funds for inland waterway projects.

"Over time based on the formula we have set up as these other projects are finished ( more money will come to the Chickamauga Lock to keep us on track to complete the new lock," Fleischmann said. "The key will be to make sure that the projects that have a higher priority and require greater amounts of funding get completed — and they are being completed."

Fleischmann said he is hopeful that the new Chickamauga Lock will get about $37 million of additional federal funding in fiscal 2017, although Congress has yet to adopt a final version of the energy and water appropriations bill.

Article from Times Free Press - Work Resumes on New Chickamauga Lock After 4-year Hiatus - April 25, 2016

Drilling is expected to start today to help shore up the coffer dam erected below the Chickamauga Dam as work resumes on building a new and bigger lock to move barge and recreational boat traffic through Chattanooga.

The work being done under a $3 million contract with Rembco Geotechnical Contractors is the most significant for the new Chickamauga Lock since the $858 million project stalled when funding ran out in 2012. U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., heralded the restart of work on the lock today during a press conference at the Chickamauga Lock in Hixson.

"This is a great day for the great state of Tennessee," Fleischmann told local and Army Corps of Engineers officials. "I pledged when I ran for Congress to try to fix what is broken in Washington."

Soon after he was first elected to Congress in 2010, Fleishmann said he learned that the funding source for dam and lock projects like the Chickamauga Lock — the Inland Waterways Trust Fund — didn't have enough money sustain work on the new Chickamauga Lock. The Olmsted lock and dams on the Ohio River were absorbing all of the available funding and were a higher priority since those locks carry far more river freight.

The Corps of Engineers has spent more than $182 million to reroute roads, install a coffer dam and design the new 110-by-600 foot lock at the Chickamauga Lock — nearly a third of which came from the federal stimulus plan adopted by Congress in 2010.

Fleischmann and other backers of the Chickamauga lock have worked over the past five years to pump more taxpayer funds into finishing the Olmsted project with a new funding formula and by  raising the barge fuel tax to generate more matching dollars for the trust fund. Fleischmann also has worked to keep the Chickamauga Lock as one of the top four priority projects among new inland waterway dams and locks proposed across the United States.

As a result, the Chickamauga Lock was allocated $3.1 million last year, which is paying for the coffer dam work by Rembco, and is on pace to receive $29.9 million this year. Congress is moving a spending plan that should allocate another $37 million for the Chickamauga Lock next year.

Lt. Col. Stephen Murphy, the commander of the Nashville district for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said with efficient and adequate funding each year the new lock could be open to barge traffic as soon as 2022 and the approach wall and other final parts of the project could be completed by 2023.

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., chairman of the energy and water appropriations subcommittee that oversees the Corps of Engineers, said in a statement today that he will continue to work to get the remaining funding to complete the new lock.

"I will push to continue this support so there will be enough funds to finish construction of a new Chickamauga Lock," Alexander said.

The current lock built in the 1930s at the Chickamauga Dam suffers from "concrete growth" caused when the rock aggregate used in the original concrete mixes with the water from the Tennessee River. To maintain the existing lock and prevent more crumbling and cracking in the lock chamber, the Corps has installed hundreds of anchors and supports and regularly monitors the condition of the crumbling lock.

The new lock will also be much larger in size, capable for handling six barges at a time. The current lock can only handle a single barge with each lockage.

Article from Nooga.com - Chickamauga Lock Slated to Receive $29.9 million in 2016 Funding - February 12, 2016

The Army Corps of Engineers released their work plan for fiscal year 2016 earlier this week, and $29.9 million was allocated to continue construction on the Chickamauga Lock.

The money will go toward finishing lock excavation, installing anchors and constructing a retaining wall, an Army Corps of Engineers news release said.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said that the lock, once finished, will benefit East Tennessee and Chattanooga:

This funding will be enough to continue construction of the new Chickamauga Lock for the second consecutive year, which is great news for East Tennessee since it will help keep up to 150,000 trucks off I-75 and keep the cost of shipping goods low for Oak Ridge, Y-12 and manufacturers across the state. This year, members of the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, which I lead, worked hard to ensure we could keep federal lock and dam projects fully funded for the second year, which was important for Chickamauga Lock after the project was restarted with $3 million last year.

Work on the lock restarted in 2015.

Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.) said he was pleased that the lock would receive additional funds in 2016.

"I am glad to see the Army Corps of Engineers' work plan includes $29.9 million for continued construction on the new Chickamauga Lock," Fleischmann said. "The importance of the new lock for East Tennessee cannot be overstated, and it will remain one of my top priorities in Congress."

Despite additional funding for the project this year, President Barack Obama’s fiscal year budget for next year did not include funding for the Chickamauga Lock.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press reported that the Obama administration’s budget set the reduction of the Army Corps of Engineers’ Civil Works program by $1.37 billion. To continue the project, Congress would have to outspend what the Obama administration recommended in the 2017 budget. 

Article from The Chattanooga Times Free Press - Feds Release $3 Million to Immediately Restart Work on Stalled Chick Lock - July 1, 2015

In a surprise move by the Army Corps of Engineers, work is already underway to secure a contract that will allow workers to begin work on the new Chickamauga lock.

The money will come from a surplus of $3 million in the Inland Waterway Trust Fund, allowing construction to begin in earnest this year instead of in 2016 as previously planned. The $3 million will be used to place grout on cracks in the cofferdam, a temporary dam built in the water near the lock that creates a dry work environment so repairs can begin.

Originally, construction on the new Chickamauga lock was slated to be revived this fall, with startup work for the biggest construction project ever in Tennessee planned to continue next year under a spending bill endorsed Tuesday by a key Senate subcommittee.

But U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn, and U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn, have continually pushed the Army Corps to immediately provide the funds needed to get the work restarted.

"Since my first day in Congress, Chickamauga Lock has been a top priority, and today's announcement that construction will be restarted is a huge win not just for Chattanooga but for all of East Tennessee," said Fleischmann. "Senator Alexander and I have worked to reform the broken Inland Waterways Trust Fund and this funding is part of a string of success in fixing this broken system."

Alexander says the priority was the replace the Chickamauga Lock "before it fails."

"The funding will be used for prep work so that the Corps can begin replacing the lock, which is important not just to Chattanooga, but to all of East Tennessee because of the number of jobs affected," Alexander said. "If Chickamauga Lock were to fail it would throw 150,000 trucks on I-75 and increase the cost of shipping goods for Oak Ridge, Y-12, and manufacturers across the state."

The Army Corps was able to move up the construction start date to 2015 because the lock met key performance criteria, and needed immediate replacement, officials said.

The $3 million cash infusion is just a drop in the bucket compared to what it will take to finish the lock, but there's more cash in the pipeline.

A Senate panel drafting next year's budget for energy and water development projects unanimously endorsed a plan that provides $29 million to restart the stalled Chickamauga lock in Chattanooga, thanks to the lock's high position on the priority list.

The Corps has spent more than $180 million on the Chickamauga lock over the past decade to design and start work on a lock to replace the existing 65-year-old chamber. But funding for the new lock ran out three years ago when most of the money in the Inland Waterways Trust Fund was absorbed by the $3 billion repair and construction of the Olmsted Lock and Dam on the Ohio River, which has a higher priority for completion than does the lock in Chattanooga.

The Corps estimates it will cost another $680 million and take about four to five years of construction to finish building the bigger lock at the Chickamauga Dam.

To revive stalled waterway projects and replenish the waterways trust fund, Congress approved a 9 cents-per-gallon fuel tax increase last year on barge operators and is moving to appropriate more money for the Corps' civil works projects this year. Inland waterway projects are funded equally between taxes on barge operators and federal tax payments collected from all taxpayers.

Alexander, Fleischmann Announce that Restarting Chickamauga Lock Will Begin This Year - July 1, 2015

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decides to spend $3 million now to begin work; $29 million more already approved by congressional committees for next year  

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Energy and Water Subcommittee, and U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.), vice chairman of the House Appropriations Energy and Water Subcommittee, today announced that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers allocated $3 million that Congress provided for fiscal year 2015 to restart construction on Chickamauga Lock this year.

“We need to replace Chickamauga Lock before it fails, and I talked with Secretary Darcy today to thank her for making this project a priority by deciding to restart construction this year,” said Alexander. “The funding will be used for prep work so that the Corps can begin replacing the lock, which is important not just to Chattanooga, but to all of East Tennessee because of the number of jobs affected. If Chickamauga Lock were to fail it would throw 150,000 trucks on I-75 and increase the cost of shipping goods for Oak Ridge, Y-12, and manufacturers across the state. ”

“Since my first day in Congress Chickamauga Lock has been a top priority, and today’s announcement that construction will be restarted is a huge win not just for Chattanooga but for all of East Tennessee,” said Fleischmann. “Senator Alexander and I have worked to reform the broken Inland Waterways Trust Fund and this funding is part of a string of success in fixing this broken system.”

The decision by Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy means that $3 million will be used to place grout on cracks in the cofferdam, which is a temporary dam built in the water near the lock that creates a dry work environment so repairs can begin. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was able to use fiscal year 2015 money because Chickamauga Lock met key performance criteria and needs to be replaced without further delay. 

In addition to the money the Corps has decided to spend on Chickamauga Lock this year, the Senate Energy and Water Development appropriations legislation, which provides funding for the Corps, also includes funding that could go toward additional work on Chickamauga Lock in fiscal year 2016. The appropriations legislation includes $29 million that will be available to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers because of Chickamauga Lock’s high position on the priority list of essential American waterways to be rebuilt.

The House Energy and Water Development appropriations legislation for fiscal year 2016 also includes the $29 million that is proposed to be available for Chickamauga Lock in fiscal year 2016. This follows Congress passing legislation to make more money available for Chickamauga Lock and other waterways projects.

In 2013, Congress passed a law that reduced the amount of money that comes from the Inland Waterways Trust Fund to replace Olmsted Lock, a project in Illinois and Kentucky that was soaking up almost all of the money that is available for inland waterway projects. That legislation also ensured that Chickamauga Lock is fourth on a priority list of Corps projects. And in 2014, Congress passed into law a user fee increase that commercial barge owners asked to pay in order to provide additional funds to replace locks and dams across the country, including Chickamauga Lock.

Article from The Chattanooga Times Free Press - Shippers Urge Corps to Finish New Chickamauga Dam Loc - June 9, 2015

Despite the urging of Tennessee's congressional delegation, the federal agency responsible for building a new lock at the Chickamauga Dam has yet to commit to using $6 million of surplus funds this year to help restart construction of the new lock, which has been stalled by a lack of money for more than three years.

But with an extra $29 million available for the project next year in both the House and Senate appropriation plans moving through Congress, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers should resume construction of the new and bigger lock in Chattanooga by next spring, at the latest.

Farmers, manufacturers and food processors that rely on the Tennessee River for shipments said Monday that construction can't come too soon on the new and bigger lock. Without a new lock, the current 75-year-old lock in Chattanooga may soon permanently close due to structural problems, effectively cutting off 318 miles of navigable river access upstream of Chattanooga.

"A new lock is critical for us and many others who rely upon the Tennessee River for shipments," said Tom Tirabassi, vice president of supply chain management for Olin Corp. in Charleston, Tenn., which ships more than 200,000 tons a year of its products on the river.

The new lock, which will be 110 feet wide and 600 feet long, will be more than three times the size of the existing lock and will be capable of handling multiple barges at a time.

"That would help tremendously to speed shipments and boost the number of barges we use," said Gerry Schlueter, plant manager for Tate and Lyle in Loudon, Tenn.

Such delays in locking through the older and smaller lock at the Chickamauga Dam have helped reduce the volume of goods shipped through the Chickamauga Lock each year from more than 2.5 million tons at the peak in in 2007 to only 959,290 tons in 2013. Last fall, the existing lock had to shut down unexpectedly to repair problems from the crumbling walls and supports for the lock gates.

"The old lock is falling apart because of concrete growth," Don Getty, the Corps' project manager, told the Waterways Council during a tour of the Chickamauga Lock on Monday.

But the Corps projects that building the new Chickamauga Lock will cost another $677 million and 10 years to complete. The Inland Waterways Trust Fund, which is jointly funded by federal taxpayer monies and fuel taxes paid by barge operators, has only had enough money in the past couple of years to pay for work on the Olmsted Lock and Dam on the Ohio River and the Lower Monongahela River in Pennsylvania.

"I can't wait to see shovels moving again on this project," U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann said. "I went to Congress because I wanted to fix some things which were broken and there's no question in my mind that the Inland Waterway Trust Fund was broken and needed to be fixed if we were going to build this vitally needed new lock."

The path to build such projects was different than in the past when congressional earmarks allowed a member of Congress to designate funds for a particular project. Congress outlawed such earmarks nearly a decade ago and projects like Chickamauga have had to wait behind higher priority, but far costlier projects in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Last year, Congress freed up more to build locks, dams and ports by allocating more money to finish the $3 billion Olmsted Lock and by raising the fuel tax on barges from 20 cents to 29 cents per gallon.

The new fuel tax, which began in April, is projected to give the Corps at least $6 million more than what it has budgeted in the current fiscal year. But the head of the Corps' civil engineering division, Jo-Ellen Darcy, has yet to commit to using such funds.

"I tried to get the Corps to spend at least $3 million of that at the Chickamauga Lock," said U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, the Tennessee Republican who chairs the energy and water subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee. "She (Secretary Darcy) beat around the bush and she never did it. I'm still trying though."

Getty said he also is pushing Corps leadership for at least $3 million to award contracts to resume the lock work. Those contracts could be quickly increased with additional funding in fiscal 2016. Otherwise, work probably won't resume until next March or later, Getty said.

'"Legislatively, we've done what needed to be done and it's up to the Corps," Fleischmann said.

The House and Senate boosted the overall Corps of Engineers budget for fiscal 2016 by $700 million above what Obama budget planners had proposed in the president's initial budget.

"What that does is to provide the Corps enough money to do what it needs to do for priority 1, 2 and 3 (of the inland waterways orojects) and still have $29 million left over to restart the Chickamauga Lock," Alexander said. "Under our rules, I can't tell them to spend the money on Chickamauga. But they know that is why they got the money. I fully expect the Corps in fiscal 2016 to restart Chickamauga Lock."

Prior to the congressional action, the Corps' long-term funding plan said funding for the new Chickamauga Lock might not be available until 2029. Fleischmann, who had signed a pledge not to raise federal taxes and criticized congressional earmarks, agreed last year to boost what he said are user fees paid by barge operators and support a bigger taxpayer share of the new Olmsed lock to help expedite the new Chickamauga Lock.

"You have moved this project forward 13 years — with a tremendous savings and benefit to the taxpayers," Waterways Council President Mike Toohey told Fleischmann.

Responsible Energy and Water Appropriations Act Prioritizes Smart Spending - May 1, 2015

On Friday morning, Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, Vice Chairman of the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, voted for H.R. 2028, the Fiscal Year 2016 Energy & Water Appropriations Act. After passage, Fleischmann released the following statement. 

“This is an excellent bill that prioritizes important spending across the country while exercising strong oversight to ensure taxpayer dollars are spent responsibly.  When it comes to national security, this bill is well-rounded. It will enhance the security and stability of our nuclear stockpile and will continue the important work done in Oak Ridge, TN.

“Our nation’s vital waterways are also well funded in this bill.  I am proud to see the Army Corps of Engineers receive funding for important projects like the Chickamauga Lock.  Also included is language that should ensure the Chickamauga Lock retains its current place in the construction priority order, leaving it well positioned to receive funding in Fiscal Year 2016.  Overall, this is a responsible bill, and I was glad to join with my House colleagues in working toward its passage.”

H.R. 2028, Fiscal Year 2016 Energy & Water Appropriations Act, includes $108 million more than the President’s budget for Inland Waterways projects, requires the Army Corps of Engineers to maintain its current prioritizations, and ensures that the Corps spends all the money it is allocated.  The bill also includes full funding for the Uranium Processing Facility.

Fleischmann Questions Army Corps Of Engineers On Inland Waterways Trust Fund - February 11, 2015

WASHINGTON− This morning, Rep. Chuck Fleischmann questioned the Secretary of the Army Corps of Engineers, Jo-Ellen Darcy, on issues regarding the Inland Waterways Trust Fund. In particular, the questions addressed funding issues impacting the Chickamauga Lock.

Fleischmann Interviews With ABC's News Channel 9 About The Chickamauga Lock - December 3, 2014

Fleischmann Leads Fight To Increase Funding For Chickamauga Lock - December 3, 2014

WASHINGTON− The House of Representatives voted to pass H.R. 647, the ABLE Act, which will provide critical funding for inland waterways projects such as the Chickamauga Lock. Congressman Chuck Fleischmann was joined by U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander in championing passage of this legislation.

“Since my first day in office, I have been fighting to secure funding for the Chickamauga Lock,” said Congressman Chuck Fleischmann. “Earlier this year, we passed legislation to reform the main funding mechanism for the lock. This was an essential fix to the underlying problem, but there is more work to be done. Today, we moved one step closer to completing our goal with the passage of the barge fuel fee increase. This fee will add approximately $40 million in annual funding to the Inland Waterways Trust Fund, which could allow construction to start as early as 2016.  The legislation passed today will ensure that East Tennessee has the waterways infrastructure necessary to build a world-class economy.”

“Passage of this legislation would mean Congress has accepted the offer by commercial barge owners to pay more to replace Chickamauga Lock, and that construction could resume as early as 2016,” said Senator Lamar Alexander, the top Republican on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development. “Replacing Chickamauga Lock keeps good jobs flowing into Chattanooga and East Tennessee – including at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, nuclear facilities and manufacturing plants – makes it easier for recreational boaters to go through the lock at no cost, and keeps 150,000 trucks from clogging up I-75. I especially congratulate Congressman Fleischmann for his work on this legislation. Without his support and that of Senator Corker and Congressman Duncan, this would not have happened. I will work to make sure it receives prompt consideration in the Senate.”

Congressman Chuck Fleischmann recently led a bipartisan letter to Speaker Boehner urging an increase in the barge fuel fee, which will help provide funding for the lock.

Chuck Fleischmann Fights For Next Step In Chickamauga Lock Funding - December 3, 2014

WASHINGTON− This morning, Congressman Chuck Fleischmann spoke on the House floor in support of H.R. 647, the ABLE Act. This legislation will provide funding to key waterways infrastructure projects such as the Chickamauga Lock.

Editorial from The Chattanooga Times Free Press - Fleischmann: Water Bill Could Signal New Day In Congress - May 24, 2014

The Water Resources Reform and Development Act proves bipartisan legislation can be passed by Congress and could be used as a model for future bills, says U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Chattanooga.

We heartily agree.

The bill, which has been sent to President Barack Obama's desk for his signature after passing the House on Tuesday and the Senate on Thursday, among other things, fixes the structure of the Inland Waterways Trust Fund. That, in turn, could expedite the process to get needed funding for the replacement Chickamauga lock.

"This shows the American people we can work across the spectrum of projects, where the systems are flawed, and how you can fight waste, fraud and abuse," Fleischmann said in an interview. "You have to do that to be more fiscally responsible."

The bill's changed funding formula for the trust fund makes more money available for all U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dam projects, but the Chickamauga lock is still fourth on the list behind the Olmsted Dam on the Ohio River (which has been getting most of the funding in recent years), the Lower Monongahela River project in Pennsylvania and the Kentucky Lock on the Tennessee River.

"I continue to inquire and press for the Army Corps to allocate funds to the Chickamauga lock," Fleischmann said. "It should be much easier now that the structure has been fixed."

But the two-term congressman could not say when that might be.

"As to the exact time frame," he said, "I don't know."

However, without the funding changes, and minus the earmarks on bills which previously funded the new lock's construction, it would have taken decades to receive funding, Fleischmann said.

"I knew a lot of things [in Congress] were broken when I got here," he said. "The structure of the Inland Waterways Trust Fund was broken and flawed. All the money was going to Olmsted. I advocated for not doing business as usual."

Yet, Fleischmann said, "there were a lot of naysayers that said you're not going to fix this broken problem" -- that Congress would have to return to earmarks or not fund the projects at all. "My main theme was to continue to work toward fixing a broken system." To achieve that eventually, he said, "was a monumental accomplishment."

Fleischmann, indeed, said he made a pest of himself in wanting to get things changed.

"I advocated tirelessly," he said. "I wore out the [House] leadership, the chairman of the Transportation Committee, anyone who would listen. I spent an enormity of time and effort."

Earlier this week when the House passed the bill, Fleischmann was given the privilege of serving as Speaker pro tempore, then was allowed to speak on the bill and then returned as Speaker pro tempore for the actual passage.

"I was [pleased] to be able to lead on this issue," he said.

Now that the structure of the trust fund is fixed, Fleischmann said he's "amenable to looking at revenue solutions [to accelerate the work] as they come up on a case by case basis."

Among those is an increase in the barge fuel tax, which has been supported by barge owners and by Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.

"I was steadfastly opposed to revenue increases until we fixed the structure," he said. Without it, "we'd lapse into our old ways" of increasing revenue but never fixing the problem. "I went to Congress to fight those problems." But if the revenue solutions "do what they're purported to do, I'll keep an open mind."

While the new bill pushes up the timetable for the likely completion of the one-third finished new lock, Fleischmann said it's important to understand the old lock must be maintained until then and to assure people it's not going to break and flood Chattanooga, as he said people have told him they've heard.

When he first went to Congress, he said, he got "conflicting reports from the [Army] Corps on the exact status, and that's why I went to visit [the lock] so many times."

"I had to rise above the political fray -- the misinformation, the disinformation -- strip the politics away and focus on policy," Fleischmann said. "People were trying to assert political agendas to scare the public. There is no danger."

What's more vital, he said, is that "the critically important commercial traffic ... be maintained. There are billions of dollars of exports and goods that go down that inland waterway. I'm committed to make that safe and vibrant."

Fleischmann said he hopes the water resources bill is a sign that "both parties can come together, set up a fiscally responsible structure and that good things can flow from that.

"I think it signals a new way of doing business in Congress," he said. "And it does away with a system [rife] with waste, fraud and abuse. We cannot lapse into the old way of doing things. I think this hearkens a new era of getting things done."

That's something everyone can get behind.

Fleischmann Campions Passage Of Funding Reforming Bill For Chickamauga Lock - May 20, 2014

WASHINGTON−Today, with overwhelming support, the House passed the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA).  Congressman Fleischmann presided as Speaker pro tempore during the House debate on WRRDA, and from the House floor encouraged his colleagues to support the legislation.  WRRDA marks the first real change to the Inland Waterways Trust Fund, which is the root of the funding issue for the Chickamauga Lock.  His speech can be seen below.

Fleischmann Leads Fight for Chickamauga Lock - Jan 31, 2014

WASHINGTON− Congressman Chuck Fleischmann organized a bipartisan group of legislators from around the Tennessee Valley, including all nine Tennessee House members, in the fight for the Chickamauga Lock. For years, the root problem was ignored in favor of earmarks.  Now, there has been a change to the funding mechanism for the Inland Waterways Trust Fund, and there is additional funding available for projects in the inland waterways system. Eleven legislators joined Fleischmann in sending a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers stressing the importance of Tennessee’s water infrastructure, which includes the Chickamauga Lock.

To hear the Congressman's remarks in the local news, please click here.

House Passes Water Resources Reform and Development Act - Oct 23, 2013

WASHINGTON− Wednesday evening, the House passed the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA).  The bill is a step in the right direction to finally reforming the Inland Waterways Trust Fund. 

“For years the underlying problem facing the Chickamauga Lock, the Inland Waterways Trust Fund, has been ignored.  Today, the House passed a bill that is a step in the right direction to begin reforming the Trust, something I have fought tirelessly for since my first day in office.  I was proud to support this bill and will continue to fight for the Chickamauga Lock.”

Congressman Fleischmann Speaks In Support Of Chickamauga Lock - Oct 23, 2013

WASHINGTON− This afternoon, Congressman Chuck Fleischmann took to the House floor in support of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA).  The bill is a much-needed step in the right direction to reforming the Inland Waterways Trust Fund, a key to resuming funding for the Chickamauga Lock. The House is expected to vote on this bill Wednesday night.

Chuck Fleischmann Fights For Chickamauga Lock at Subcommittee Hearing - Mar 27, 2012

WASHINGTON − Congressman Chuck Fleischmann aggressively questioned the Obama Administration’s funding priorities for the Chickamauga Lock at a Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment Hearing.  Testifying at the hearing was Major General Merdith Temple, Acting Chief of Engineers for the Army Corps of Engineers, and Jo Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works.

Chuck Fleischmann and Chairman Bill Shuster Tour Chickamauga Lock - Mar 26, 2012

CHATTANOOGA – Congressman Chuck Fleischmann and Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) toured the Chickamauga Lock this morning.  Chairman Shuster is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials, and is a high profile Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.  The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has jurisdiction over the Chickamauga Lock.

To read more about their tour, please click here.

Fleischmann Tours Chickamauga Lock Immediately After Taking Office - Feb 24, 2011

WASHINGTON– Congressman Chuck Fleischmann toured the Chickamauga Lock yesterday for the first time since taking office. He was briefed by the Army Corps of Engineers, and shown the work being done on the old and new locks.

To learn more about his visit, please click here.