(Photo: Iowa Soybean Association)
Lock and Dam #25 added to priority project list
January 20, 2022 | Bethany Baratta
A lock and dam significant in transporting the majority of soybeans and corn from Iowa and other Midwestern states will soon receive $732 million to improve the efficiency and competitiveness on the Mississippi River.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has included Lock and Dam #25 in their work plan, a detailed list of projects to receive funding this year due to the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
“This announcement was the result of years of determined and persistent advocacy by agriculture, the barge and towing industry, and a variety of other inland waterway stakeholders,” says Mike Steenhoek, executive director of the Soy Transportation Coalition.
Located in Winfield, Missouri, Lock and Dam #25 opened in 1939 and in the most southern lock and dam on the Mississippi River with a single, 600 ftx110ft lock chamber.
Steenhoek says most every bushel of soybeans, corn, and other grain transported along the Mississippi River from Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin pass through Lock and Dam #25 en route to export facilities near the Gulf of Mexico.
The $732 million allocated for the design and construction of the project will expand export capabilities. It will result in a new 1,200 ft. x 110ft lock chamber which will be built adjacent to the existing 600 ft. x 110 ft. lock chamber. This will enable a typical 15 barge tow—transporting more than 800,000 bushels of soybeans or corn—to transit the lock in one single pass (a 30-45 minute process) compared to disassembling the barge tow into two sections, which will result in two passes (over two hours), according to Steenhoek.
A second lock will also provide the needed resiliency and redundancy, allowing a key link in the supply chain to remain operational if one of the lock chambers was closed.
U.S. soybean and corn farmers have been essential in promoting the inland waterway system and specifically projects along the Upper Mississippi River, including Lock and Dam #25, Steenhoek says.
The Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa Corn Promotion Board, the United Soybean Board, the Soy Transportation Coalition, Illinois Soybeans Association, Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council, and the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council partnered and announced on Nov. 29, 2021, the offer of $1 million to help underwrite the cost of pre-engineering and design expenses of Lock and Dam #25.
Steenhoek also recognized the Waterways Council for their leadership, and numerous elected officials throughout the Midwest who were consequential in this project receiving the green light.
Steenhoek says naming Lock and Dam #25 as a priority project reassures its significance not only to Midwest farmers, but to the U.S. economy.
“In addition to the overall challenges confronting our global supply chain, a number of specific disruptions—Hurricane Ida, the Suez Canal, the I-40 bridge near Memphis, the Colonial Pipeline—have provided a vivid reminder over the past year that if one of our critical junctures goes awry for any number of reasons, the consequences to the broader economy can be significant,” Steenhoek says. “For agriculture, a catastrophic failure at a key lock and dam would suffocate the ability of farmers to meet the demand of their international customers. Given this vulnerability, we are extremely pleased Lock and Dam #25 will receive the necessary funding to increase in capacity and resilience.”
For more information about the Soy Transportation Coalition, visit its website at soytransportation.org.