All Things Considered:
This week's congressional compromise to end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling had a few other provisions as well.While this project has been massively over budget, it is a much needed navigational improvement on the Ohio River. Much of the blame for the overruns come from consultants being dramatically optimistic about the cost of using a complex construction method. Funding from Congress has been difficult to garner, so this is a big deal. Check out how the two locks upstream work. They will be replaced by this project:
One of them allows additional spending on a lock and dam project on the Ohio River between Kentucky and Illinois.
The amount is $2.1 billion — a rounding error compared with the $16.7 trillion debt ceiling. But it's still enough to rile budget watchdogs, as well as hard-line conservatives who call it pork-barrel spending by Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican.
The Army Corps of Engineers has been working on the new lock and dam on the Ohio River since 1988. It's located between the towns of Olmsted and , a few miles up from where the Ohio meets the Mississippi.
It's just downstream from the old set of locks and dams, which date to the 1920s. Some of the machinery operating the locks still needs to be raised and lowered by hand — "by these crews of men and women that are out on an old steamboat," says James Bruggers, energy and the environment for the Louisville Courier-Journal.
"These two old locks and dams that are just upriver from the Olmsted project are a really great example of our nation's crumbling infrastructure," Bruggers says. "They're already sort of a choke point for this commercial barge traffic."
The barges carry coal, grain and other cargo — about 90 million tons per year.
This is one of the biggest construction jobs going right now in the United States, with massive blocks of concrete being lowered into the river.